11 March 2020, World Delirium Day
Today, 11 March, we celebrate World Delirium Day. This date aims to raise awareness among professionals, families and users about the importance of prevention, detection and proper management of this disease. This initiative is organized by iDelirium (European Delirium Association, Australasian Delirium Association and American Delirium Society.
Here are some tips and recommendations for understanding and treating Delirium:
What is Delirium?
Delirium is a rapid decline in cognitive function. It is characterized by: difficulty in concentrating; disorientation; sleepiness; agitation and sometimes hallucinations and/or delusions. Delirium usually develops within hours or days.
What can cause Delirium?
The main causes of Delirium are acute illness, traumatic injury (e.g., fracture of a bone from a fall), surgery, or the effects of drugs.
Who can get Delirium?
Anyone can develop Delirium. However, older age and dementia are predisposing factors that lead to an increased risk of developing it.
Are Delirium and Dementia the same thing?
No. They are two different entities. The symptoms of Delirium appear quickly and usually resolve within a few days/weeks. In contrast, dementia develops more slowly (months) and in most cases is irreversible.
If it is reversible, why is it so important?
Even a short episode of Delirium increases the likelihood of: worse recovery from acute illness; institutionalization; development of dementia and mortality. The presence of delusions can be stressful for affected people. Delirium is also a source of stress and overload for family members and caregivers.
What is the prevalence of Delirium?
One in four elderly hospitalized patients will develop Delirium.
How is Delirium treated?
The most important measures are: early detection and treatment of intercurrent illnesses and adjustment of drugs that may have triggered the episode.
What can I do about Delirium?
Tell your care team (nurses, doctors, therapists, etc.): Delirium can be a sign of an acute and serious illness. It can help with recovery:
- Use your glasses and hearing aids
- Avoiding bedding and encouraging mobilization
- Reorientation measures (visible clock and calendars)
- Accompany, stimulate and distract (read, play, do puzzles, etc.)
- Speak calmly, remain calm without contradicting during the delirium
- Maintain a quiet, pleasant environment with lighting according to the time of day
- Encouraging night's rest
- Ensure the elimination of urine and faeces, as well as adequate hydration and nutrition