How to Recognize Delirium in Someone With Dementia

With luck, you'll never witness delirium, but it's critical to know about. Delirium is a common side effect of physical stress caused by things like infection (a urinary tract infection, for example), dehydration, pain, or the stresses of hospitalization. Older adults with dementia are especially vulnerable to delirium -- and it's an important clue to many correctable problems.

Signs of delirium: Your loved one appears to undergo a drastic decline in condition -- greater mental confusion than usual, an apparent worsening of memory, hallucinating, unusual agitation or drowsiness, unintelligible speech, or difficulty focusing (any of these, not necessarily all).

What to do: Mention to the doctor or nurse that what you're seeing is a sudden change for this individual, because, often, medical staff (who don't know the person as well as you) think such symptoms are "just the dementia."

SEE ALSO: Find Memory Care Near You


11 months ago, said...

my mother in law already has dementia but was hospitalized about a month ago she still showing signs of not remembering where she did this and what she did not remember to going to the doctor and being mean word wise they gave her some antibiotics for a UTI but it wasn't that bad she's clearly that so I don't know how to look for this for further references


almost 3 years ago, said...

Symptoms of Delirium - what to look for or what I have been noticing. Dr. visit next week. I will mention this.


about 3 years ago, said...

this really does not explain "delirium" -- what is a "drastic decline in condition" ??? at what point are you able to say "this is not the normal flux of dementia or effects of aging/illness - but is delirium ??" the day-to-day changes can certainly be misinterpreted. if you consider any changes to be delirium, what does this mean? what is the effect and how does it affect other illnesses, or prognosis? what is the "treatment" ??? there are many more questions that need answers


about 3 years ago, said...

Just this week, my husband was confused about who owned this house(we do) where are my clothes for tomorrow? I told him not to worry,and that we owned the house and that his clothes are in his closet. This is the first time this has happeed. Almost do not want to know what is next!


almost 4 years ago, said...

What are the medicines for delirium ?


almost 4 years ago, said...

Delirium as a common side effect of physical stresses that my husband experienced.


about 4 years ago, said...

My wife constantly complains about burning pain in urethra and un-bearable pain in lower waist region when she sits for more than 15 minutes. She therefore is lyeing position for most of the time except when she is on dneing table.Are these the signs of delirium ? What is the treatment if any ?


about 4 years ago, said...

could you explain more effectively, the "stages" of delirium? if someone has cognitive impairment/dementia, are there different levels of symptoms and at what point do you consider it to be delirium that needs emergency attention?


almost 5 years ago, said...

Yes, my mom was just released from the hospital yesterday for this. It would have been helpful to have this word to use to specify her condition because doctors were writing her symptoms off to dementia at first.


almost 5 years ago, said...

when we went through it, it took us weeks to figure out what was happening. Now at the first sign, we contact the doctor.


about 5 years ago, said...

Hi Nutmeg, Thank you for your questions. Once you recognize the symptoms, you should "Mention to the doctor or nurse that what you're seeing is a sudden change for this individual," as it says in the tip! Take care -- Emily | Community Manager


about 5 years ago, said...

Recognizing the signs is a good idea, but then what to do?


about 5 years ago, said...

Hello Jshaffy12, Thank you very much for your question. If you would like to learn about the Stages of Alzheimer's disease, you can do so here: ( http://www.caring.com/articles/alzheimers-stages ). I hope that helps. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager


about 5 years ago, said...

What are the 3 stages of alzheimers?


about 5 years ago, said...

Very helpfull . Thank you very much and god bless


over 5 years ago, said...

Hi jainnagraj, Thank you very much for your question. Unfortunately, we are unable to diagnose medical problems for our site members, or provide medical guidance online. While members of our community may respond to your question, we recommend that you contact a doctor offline regarding this medical issue. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager


over 5 years ago, said...

My wife had hemiparases as aresult of stroke due to blocked artery in brain. She could not walk. After about a weaks treatment in hospital and six months treatment at home she started walking. But after six months of stroke she had mental problems like forgetting due probably to imparment of temporary memory. Doctor gave treatment for depression. But no improvement. Now it is thought to be vascular dementia . Here also no effective treatment with medicine. I personally feel that it must be Delirium post stroke. I would like to know treatment for this.