What is Delirium?
Delirium is when a person becomes suddenly confused and disoriented. It can happen at any age, but it is most common for people older than 65. Delirium is a sign of a serious, treatable medical condition, not a disease. There can be many causes, including:
- Sudden or severe illness
- Drug or alcohol withdrawal
- Recent hospital stay or move
- Loss of loved one
- Sleep deprivation
- Medication side effects
- Change in medication
- Recent surgery with anesthesia
- Worsening of a chronic disease
- Recent fall or injury
- Too much or too little of some minerals in the blood, i.e. glucose, sodium
Patients may develop delirium if they have suffered from dementia, a brain injury, stroke, bad vision/hearing, or mental health concerns.
Are You Worried About Your Loved One?
Do you find yourself thinking: “He isn’t usually like this?”
Delirium is a sign of a serious treatable condition. Don’t brush off this feeling by saying to yourself: “Oh, it’ll be OK. Maybe he was just having a rough day.”
Trust your instincts. Delirium needs to be promptly addressed by a member of a healthcare team.
Delirium often goes unrecognized and untreated. Family members and friends can make a difference in getting effective treatment for their loved one by calling their doctor.
Common Signs of Delirium
Is your loved one:
- Thinking unclearly
- Unable to pay attention
- Unaware of their surroundings
- Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
- Unable to recognize you
- Saying strange things
Additional signs may include:
- Agitation, anxiety or unusual, aggressive behavior
- Severe sleepiness or unusually quiet
- New resistance to help from doctors