In August HealthCap posted a blog discussing how low plasma levels of Vitamin D was identified as being an independent risk factor for COVID-19 infection and hospitalization. Interestingly, in an article published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society on October 5, 2020, studies now show that progressively lower plasma levels of Vitamin D predicted increased risks of incident hospital-diagnosed delirium. Genetic evidence also supports a shared causal pathway.
So, how do you know if a resident is experiencing delirium? What should you be looking for? The symptoms of delirium are an acute fluctuating change in cognition associated with inattention, disorganized thinking, or altered level of consciousness and it is common among hospitalized older adults. It is potentially preventable and often underrecognized in clinical practice. The causes of delirium are multifactorial, involving both underlying or predisposing (i.e., dementia, advanced age) and precipitating factors (i.e., hospitalization, surgery, anesthesia, infection). In our world of caring for an aging population, we should be aware of these studies as they may assist in preventing negative outcomes for our residents. A simple blood test might prove helpful in identifying causative factors for a resident’s sudden change in status. Vitamin supplementation might be the “cure” and the cost is minimal especially if it improves outcomes. Remember what your mom used to say “get out in the sunshine”, apparently mom still knows best! Stay well, stay safe, and stay tuned!