The Effect of COVID-19 on Delirium in Elderly Hospitalized Patients

The Effect of COVID-19 on Delirium in Elderly Hospitalized Patients



Katherine Elizabeth Perri, Elexa R. White


Presentation: 1:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Kennedy Union Ballroom

This project reflects research conducted as part of a course project designed to give students experience in the research process.

Course: MED 480



Delirium is a condition in which a patient experiences a serious decline in mental capabilities leading to a confused way of thinking, disorganized thoughts, and functional impairment. Delirium in hospitalized patients can lead to many complications during their hospital stay. “Compared with non-delirious patients, hospitalized delirious patients are more likely to develop functional impairment, be discharged to a facility, and be readmitted to the hospital” (LaHue 2020). To combat this issue, many hospitals have implemented programs to prevent delirium in elderly patients. The Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) is a program at Miami Valley Hospital where volunteers visit patients ages 65 and above that meet specific criteria and engage them in mental and physical activities in order to lessen the risk for delirium. The impact of COVID-19 forced many hospitals to make policy changes which included closure of programs like HELP and other “ACE” units. “With many hospitals reaching or exceeding patient capacity during this pandemic, some ACE units have disbanded in order to reallocate resources for the care of patients with COVID-19, subsequently fracturing delirium prevention care pathways as well” (LaHue 2020). There are several other factors that also play a role in increasing the risk of delirium during the pandemic. “In the era of COVID-19, hospitalized elderly patients who are already at risk of developing delirium are even more vulnerable. Widely implemented hospital visitor restrictions mean that hospitalized older adults are more likely to be isolated from familiar contacts'' (Nair 2020). The decreased preventative care and increased isolation as well as a variety of other factors have contributed to an increase in delirium in hospitalized patients. (Chilson 2022). The purpose of this poster is to highlight tools used to prevent delirium in hospitalized patients, such as HELP, and discuss how the pandemic affected such programs as well as increased isolation, furthering the risk of delirium.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project

Primary Advisor

Marylynn B. Herchline

Primary Advisor's Department

Premedical Programs


Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Good Health and Well-Being

The Effect of COVID-19 on Delirium in Elderly Hospitalized Patients