Some of the most common causes of sudden confusion include: an infection – urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common cause in elderly people or people with dementia. a stroke or TIA (“mini-stroke”) a low blood sugar level in people with diabetes – read about treating low blood sugar.
One of the most common reversible cognitive disorders is delirium, which is a sudden and drastic change in the ability to focus attention. People also become extremely confused about where they are and what time it is.
Alcohol or drug intoxication or withdrawal. A medical condition, such as a stroke, heart attack, worsening lung or liver disease, or an injury from a fall. Metabolic imbalances, such as low sodium or low calcium. Severe, chronic or terminal illness .
Delirium is defined as an acute , fluctuating syndrome of altered attention, awareness, and cognition. It is common in older persons in the hospital and long-term care facilities and may indicate a life-threatening condition.
How families can help avoid or limit hospital delirium Consult with a geriatric specialist. Bring a full medication list to any new health professional. Make things familiar. Stay close. Insist on sensory aids. Promote activity. Be there for meals. Participate in discharge planning.
Once in hospital , delirium can be caused by a combination of numerous factors, including surgery, infection, isolation, dehydration, poor nutrition and medications such as painkillers, sedatives and sleeping pills.
Treatment for delirium depends on the cause. Treatments may include: Antibiotics for infections. Fluids and electrolytes for dehydration. Antipsychotic drugs include: Haloperidol (Haldol®). Risperidone (Risperdal®). Olanzapine (Zyprexa®). Quetiapine (Seroquel®).
Emotional disorders. Stress , anxiety or depression can cause forgetfulness, confusion , difficulty concentrating and other problems that disrupt daily activities.
UTIs can cause a significant and distressing change in someone’s behaviour that is commonly referred to as ‘ acute confusional state ‘ or ‘ delirium ‘. Delirium is a change in someone’s mental state and usually develops over one or two days .
Usually, delirium gets better. In 6 out of 10 (60%) people, the symptoms disappear within six days. Others may continue to experience some symptoms for longer. About 1 in 20 (5%) people may still suffer from delirium more than a month after they first had symptoms.
Delirium can last for a few days, weeks or even months but it may take longer for people with dementia to recover. In hospitals, approximately 20-30% of older people on medical wards will have delirium and up to 50% of people with dementia . Between 10-50% of people having surgery can develop delirium.
How to Help a Person with Delirium Encouraging them to rest and sleep. Keeping their room quiet and calm. Making sure they’re comfortable. Encouraging them to get up and sit in a chair during the day. Encouraging them to work with a physical or occupational therapist. Helping them eat and drink.
The development of delirium frequently depends on a combination of predisposing, non modifiable factors—such as baseline dementia or serious medical illness—and precipitating, often modifiable factors—such as taking of sedative medications, infections, abnormal laboratory test results, or surgery.
10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Memory loss that disrupts daily life. Challenges in planning or solving problems. Difficulty completing familiar tasks. Confusion with time or place. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
Patients at the end of life develop a number of distressing symptoms . Although delirium is one of the most common neuropsychiatric problems in patients with advanced cancer, it is poorly recognised and poorly treated. Delirium is prevalent at the end of life , particularly during the final 24–48 h.