Recognising and preventing delirium

Delirium  is  a  sudden  change  in  a  person’s  mental  state.  It  is  a  serious condition  that  is sometimes mistaken for dementia or, more rarely, depression.

Unlike dementia, delirium develops quickly and is usually temporary. Having delirium can mean:
•     longer hospital stays
•     increased risk of dementia
•     increased mortality.
Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and should be managed by a healthcare professional, such as a GP. Being well-informed may help reduce any distress for the person and their family.


Care staff should provide information that shows:
•     where to find support
•     the importance of telling care staff about any sudden changes
•     delirium is a common condition that is usually temporary
•     how other people with delirium have felt.

Recognising and preventing delirium

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