Research on Delirium with Hospitalized Older Adults

To PTs and PTAs working with hospitalized older adults.

We need your input to create a picture of the management of older adults with delirium in the acute care setting. Please join us by answering a questionnaire developed by DPT students at University of North Georgia. Our research project, entitled Effectiveness of Physical Therapists’ Knowledge and Skills in the Management of Older Adults with Delirium in the Acute Care Setting, is a survey of PTs and PTAs working with hospitalized older adults to assess their knowledge, attitude, and practice regarding delirium. The project is being conducted by Dr. Lisa Barnes-Foster, PT, DPT, PhD, who is serving as the Principal Investigator, Dr. Rachael Walton-Mouw, PT, DPT, Sydney Foster, SPT, and Katie Cheek, SPT at the University of North Georgia. The survey is expected to take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Any questions can be directed to Dr. Barnes-Foster at

Thank you in advance for your time.
Link to Survey

I haven’t been in acute care for some time, so I haven’t completed your survey, but wanted to share another thought I had. In all settings where the physician doesn’t know the individual and their baseline, too often I see people with cognitive changes from a number of causes assumed to have dementia as their baseline. Physicians in acute or SNF care don’t realize or accept that the current cognitive status is a change from their norm. This is especially challenging when there is a baseline cognitive impairment, but with an acute worsening or change due to some medical condition.

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I agree with you 100%. I believe that one of the reasons this happens is because it is often a forgone conclusion that all (or at least most) older adults have dementia. It seems providers are very quick to assume that if an older adult is confused that they must have a history of dementia - and that what they are seeing is their baseline. I also think this is why PTs are so critical in the fight against delirium - since we dive deeper into the patient’s baseline information and notice changes.