Why is my husband acting like he has dementia after his surgery?

Nohelphere asked...

My husband had an ischemic stroke that resulted in a brain bleed 2006. In Jan. 2011, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Last Saturday he had a large kidney stone removed (general anesthesia). Initially, he had difficulty using the side affected by the stroke. Now he is terriby confused, restless, agitated and even walks away leaving his catheter bag still attached. He was not this bad prior to the surgery although his anxiety level has been increasing steadily. He has not had another stroke (CT). Does anyone have any suggestions as to why my husband age 62 appears demented and will this go away?

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

I have read the above question and the response from the anethesiologist.

In my opinion, this sounds like delirium, which is common after surgery. Delirium is a confusional state that will look like dementia, but it is not a brain disease. Symptoms of delirium include confusion, poor attention span, and day/night reversal. The symptoms you describe, like your husband's confusion and restlessness, are typical of delirium. The good news is that delirium from surgery usually clears in a couple weeks or so. In the meantime, try to orient your husband to his surroundings and make sure he is not constipated. Encourage him to eat and drink, as well as walk (if he can). Make sure his pain is treated too.

Good luck.