Skip to main content

Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP)


The Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) aims to keep hospitalized older adults mentally and physically active which helps to prevent delirium and functional decline.
Our team includes an Elder Life Specialist (ELS), Elder Life Assistant (ELA), and specially trained HELP Volunteers.
The HELP team works closely with the Seniors Health Team, Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Pharmacists, Registered Dietitians, Social Workers, and Physicians.

Who we HELP?

HELP is for older adult patients who are at risk for delirium and functional decline during their hospital stay. Patients at risk may have problems in at least one of the following areas:

  • Cognition
  • Mobility
  • Activities of daily living   
  • Vision
  • Hearing  
  • Sleep
  • Communication

How does the program work?

  1. When older adult patients are admitted to an inpatient unit with HELP, the ELS will screen for their risk of delirium or functional decline.
  2. Patients identified to be at risk will then receive a baseline assessment or enrollment screen by the ELS or ELA. This may include a functional assessment, cognitive assessment, delirium screening, and gathering information such as daily living habits and routines, vision, hearing, leisure activities/hobbies, sleep, mobility, and nutrition.
  3. A customized care plan will be developed with the patient’s input.
  4. Specially trained HELP volunteers will then visit and carry out prevention activities as part of the care plan. Volunteers may be available 7 days per week between the hours of 8am to 8pm.
  5. The ELS and ELA will monitor progress and make changes to the care plan as needed until discharge from the hospital.

Participation in HELP is voluntary and a patient may stop participating at any time.

Contact Information:

Email us at:
Elder Life Specialist - Credit Valley Hospital              
905-813-1100 ext. 5031

Elder Life Specialist- Mississauga Hospital
905-848-7580 ext. 2274

Elder Life Assistant
905-848-7580 ext. 2499

Resources for Patients and Their Families:

Delirium is a sudden and temporary state of confusion. Symptoms can change throughout the day and last from days to weeks. Delirium is different from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease because it develops more quickly and may clear completely. It is a serious condition.


  1. Act confused.
  2. Have trouble paying attention and concentrating.
  3. Be forgetful and confused about where they are.
  4. Be upset and restless.
  5. Have a change in sleeping patterns (mix up days and nights) or sleep all day.
  6. See or hear imaginary things.

Delirium is a serious condition. Please tell your health care provider if you notice these new symptoms.

Functional decline is a general weakness or inability to do normal or basic activities such as walking, bathing, toileting, and feeding.
Staying in bed too long and being inactive can cause muscle weakness, balance problems, exhaustion, and even falls.


  1. Stay mentally active: Take part in hobbies and activities such as reading, doing puzzles and playing games. Keep track of date, day, time, year and season. Have your family bring in books, magazines, and other hobbies that you enjoy. Invite family/friends to visit often, and phone family/friends for conversation.
  2. Stay physically active: Walking or bed exercises at least three times per day. Use any assistive devices necessary at all times and ask for assistance if needed to walk safely.
  3. Eat and drink well: Unless otherwise told by your nurse, eat your meals and drink your fluids. Try to sit up in a chair for all your meals.
  4. Maintain healthy hearing and vision: If needed, wear your hearing aids and glasses at all times except when sleeping.
  5. Maintain healthy sleep routines: Try to stay awake during the daytime. Stop drinking fluids 2 hours before going to bed for the night. Avoid caffeinated drinks in the evening.

The Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) © 2000. Sharon Inouye, MD, MPH​​