All About Estates

Delirium, a few things to note:

I had previously written about hospital acquired delirium which I believe merits reposting.

Delirium is one of the 3 big ‘D’s that we see with our older clients. The other ‘D’’s are dementia and depression.

Over this past year, in addition to Covid- people still got sick; especially common were Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) which often necessitated a trip to the hospital. holiday period I had a number of clients get sick, enter hospital and develop delirium.  The Mayo clinic   shares that “the signs and symptoms of delirium usually begin over a few hours or a few days.  They fluctuate throughout the day, and there may be periods of no symptoms.  Symptoms tend to be worse during the night when it’s dark and things look less familiar.  Primary signs and symptoms include

Reduced awareness of the environment, such as:

  • An inability to stay focused on a topic
  • Getting stuck on an idea rather than responding to questions or conversation
  • Being easily distracted by unimportant things
  • Being withdrawn, with little or no activity or little response to the environment

Poor thinking skills, such as:

  • Poor memory
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty speaking or recalling words
  • Rambling or nonsense speech
  • Trouble understanding speech
  • Difficulty reading or writing

Behaviour Changes and may include:

  • Seeing things (hallucinations)
  • Restlessness, agitation and combative behaviour
  • Calling out, moaning or being quiet and withdrawn
  • Slowed movement or lethargy
  • Disturbed sleep and reversal of night-day-wake cycle

Emotional Disturbance such as:

  • Anxiety, fear or paranoia
  • Depression
  • Irritability or anger
  • Apathy or euphoria
  • Rapid mood shifts”

The risk here is that the amount of recovery can be dependent on the health  and mental status of the individual before the onset of delirium.

For those with a UTI, a course of antibiotics is often sufficient and the delirium should disappear and the client should be able to return to their previous base line.  A healthy person is more likely to recover; those who may be compromised or have some degree of dementia, may not.

Lesson Learnt:  If you notice any of the above symptoms, have them checked out.





About Audrey Miller
About: Audrey Miller, Managing Director of Elder Caring Inc. has over 30 years social work and rehabilitation experience working with older individuals and their families. She advises the financial, insurance, legal and business communities regarding elder care issues. Audrey is a recognized expert in her field. Email:


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