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​What is Delirium?

Delirium is a common and serious condition that affects many elderly admitted in the hospital. It clouds a person’s mind, making it hard to pay attention and focus.

A delirious elderly is at higher risk of falling, incontinence and developing bed sores. It can develop quickly and affects the person for hours, days or even weeks.

With appropriate management, delirium can be reversed and the person will return to his/her usual self in a short time.

Who is at risk of delirium?

  • 65 years old and above
  • With dementia or depression
  • Not functionally independent
  • Impaired vision or hearing
  • Dehydrated or malnourished
  • Multiple medications
  • Multiple medical conditions
  • Been through a surgery

The love and company of family members and friends are important in caring for your loved ones who stay in the hospital. Inform the nurse or doctor immediately if you notice signs and symptoms of delirium. Family members are often the first to notice subtle changes.

​Signs and symptoms of delirium*
  • ​Sudden onset of confusion
  • Fluctuation between periods of drowsiness and hyper-alertness
  • Difficulty paying attention and understanding what is happening
  • Confused about daily events, daily routines and person
  • Speech that does not make sense
  • Change in behaviour and/or personality
  • Seeing or hearing things that are not there
  • Thinking that people are trying to harm them
  • Become quiet and withdrawn
  • Become stressed, anxious or agitated
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Change in eating habits

*Symptoms of delirium differ for different people.

​Ways to reduce the risk of developing delirium*


*​The steps above can be used to help elderly who have developed delirium.

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