Brown University links delirium to health risks in nursing homes

Brown researchers found that 240,000 seniors of the 5.5 million admitted to nursing homes between 2011 and 2014 suffered from delirium.
Brown researchers found that 240,000 seniors of the 5.5 million admitted to nursing homes between 2011 and 2014 suffered from delirium. | File photo

According to new research from Brown University, seniors admitted into nursing homes with delirium – a decline in cognitive function that is difficult to recognize as it often comes and goes – face more health risks than those without the condition.

“Upon admission to post-acute care, there are at least 4 percent of patients who have delirium,” Cyrus Kosar, a graduate student who led the research, said. “We should make an effort to improve care for these specific patients since they are high risk.”

Brown researchers found that 240,000 seniors of the 5.5 million admitted to nursing homes between 2011 and 2014 suffered from delirium.

“Delirium essentially is a good signal of a sicker patient or for a patient who is not getting the care that they need,” Kosar said.

The mortality rates among patients with delirium was 16 percent after 30 days, as opposed to 6 percent for those without it. Seniors with delirium were also more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within a month and had a lower rate of recovering their ability to function independently.

“I do believe there are patients we can target to address their delirium more effectively,” Kosar said. “There are going to be times when we can address the issues.”

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