Delirium is a state of mental confusion that starts suddenly. It’s more common in older adults and people who are hospitalized. If you notice a sudden shift in mental status in a loved one — for example, they’re confused, disoriented and distracted — contact a healthcare provider.
The most common causes of sudden confusion include: a lack of oxygen in the blood (hypoxia) – the cause could be anything from a severe asthma attack to a problem with the lungs or heart. an infection anywhere in the body, especially in elderly people. a stroke or TIA (‘mini stroke’)
Confusion in the elderly patient is usually a symptom of delirium or dementia, but it may also occur in major depression and psychoses. Until another cause is identified, the confused patient should be assumed to have delirium, which is often reversible with treatment of the underlying disorder.
If you’re with someone who suddenly becomes confused, call their doctor or 911. It’s important to get help quickly so they can get treatment ASAP. While you wait, stay with the person.
Contrary to popular opinion, confusion in an elderly adult is not a natural part of healthy aging. Confusion can be caused by many factors, ranging from medication mismanagement to mild strokes to underlying health conditions, which could be as serious as Alzheimer’s Disease progression or dementia.
Confusion may be associated with serious infections, some chronic medical conditions, head injury, brain or spinal cord tumor, delirium, stroke, or dementia. It can be caused by alcohol or drug intoxication, sleep disorders, chemical or electrolyte imbalances, vitamin deficiencies, or medications.
There are 3 types of confusion.
Symptoms can sometimes develop suddenly and quickly get worse, but they can also develop gradually over many months or years.
Symptoms of dehydration in elderly adults may sometimes be subtle, but not drinking enough water and fluids can have a big effect on the body, especially in the elderly. Severe dehydration can lead to confusion, weakness, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, bedsores in bedridden patients, and other serious conditions.
Common causes include delirium, dementia, substance-induced hallucinosis, primary psychiatric illnesses, CBS, and bereavement. Some underlying causes, such as ophthalmologic disease, delirium, and drug-induced hallucinations, are reversible, especially with early identification and definitive treatment.
Stress, anxiety or depression can cause forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating and other problems that disrupt daily activities. Alcoholism. Chronic alcoholism can seriously impair mental abilities. Alcohol can also cause memory loss by interacting with medications.
The 10 warning signs of dementia
Dementia can cause hallucinations Dementia causes changes in the brain that may cause someone to hallucinate – see, hear, feel, or taste something that isn’t there. Their brain is distorting or misinterpreting the senses. And even if it’s not real, the hallucination is very real to the person experiencing it.
How to Help a Person with Delirium
Experts have identified three types of delirium: Hyperactive delirium. Probably the most easily recognized type, this may include restlessness (for example, pacing), agitation, rapid mood changes or hallucinations, and refusal to cooperate with care. Hypoactive delirium.