Confusion or decreased alertness may be the first symptom of a serious illness, particularly in older adults. Health problems that can cause confusion or decreased alertness include: Infections, such as a urinary tract infection, respiratory infection, or sepsis. Alzheimer’s disease.
- Delirium or Sudden Confusion in Elderly Adults. But when the confusion comes on suddenly, or the older adult becomes difficult to arouse, this could be a condition called delirium. This type of sudden confusion may be the first sign that the person has another illness and needs medical help right away.
Confusion in the elderly patient is usually a symptom of delirium or dementia, but it may also occur in major depression and psychoses. Until another cause is identified, the confused patient should be assumed to have delirium, which is often reversible with treatment of the underlying disorder.Author:
David V. Espino, Avril C.A. Jules-Bradley, Cindy L. Johnston, Charles P. MoutonCited by:
What is the first sign of delirium?
Probably the most easily recognized type, this may include restlessness (for example, pacing), agitation , rapid mood changes or hallucinations , and refusal to cooperate with care. Hypoactive delirium. This may include inactivity or reduced motor activity, sluggishness, abnormal drowsiness, or seeming to be in a daze.
When patients suddenly become confused?
Sudden confusion , sometimes called delirium, can be a sign of many health problems. It comes on quickly, within hours or days. It’s different from dementia (like Alzheimer’s disease), which causes slow changes over months or years.
How long does delirium last in elderly?
Delirium often clears in a few days or weeks. Some may not respond to treatment for many weeks. You may also see problems with memory and thought process that do not go away. Talk to your health provider about your concerns.
What medical conditions can cause confusion?
Confusion may be caused by different health problems, such as: Alcohol or drug intoxication. Brain tumor. Head trauma or head injury (concussion) Fever. Fluid and electrolyte imbalance. Illness in an older person, such as loss of brain function ( dementia )
What happens if delirium is not treated?
In the long term, delirium can cause permanent damage to cognitive ability and is associated with an increase in long-term care admissions. It also leads to complications, such as pneumonia or blood clots that weaken patients and increase the chances that they will die within a year.
What causes sudden delirium in elderly?
Some of the most common causes of sudden confusion include: an infection – urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common cause in elderly people or people with dementia. a stroke or TIA (“mini-stroke”) a low blood sugar level in people with diabetes – read about treating low blood sugar.
What are the 10 warning signs of dementia?
10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Memory loss that disrupts daily life. Challenges in planning or solving problems. Difficulty completing familiar tasks. Confusion with time or place. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
What is confusion a sign of?
Confusion or decreased alertness may be the first symptom of a serious illness, particularly in older adults. Health problems that can cause confusion or decreased alertness include: Infections , such as a urinary tract infection , respiratory infection , or sepsis. Alzheimer’s disease.
How do you help an elderly person with confusion?
Tips for Communicating with a Confused Patient Try to address the patient directly, even if his or her cognitive capacity is diminished. Gain the person’s attention. Speak distinctly and at a natural rate of speed. Help orient the patient . If possible, meet in surroundings familiar to the patient . Support and reassure the patient .
Can an elderly person recover from delirium?
Usually, delirium gets better. In 6 out of 10 (60%) people, the symptoms disappear within six days. Others may continue to experience some symptoms for longer. About 1 in 20 (5%) people may still suffer from delirium more than a month after they first had symptoms.
Can dehydration cause delirium in elderly?
Once an older person is thirsty, they are already mildly dehydrated . Symptoms of severe dehydration include dry mouth and lips, sunken eyes, increased mental status changes and decreased urine output. This is a medical emergency which results in delirium and if not reversed, death ensues.
When should an elderly person go to the hospital?
Patients age 65 or older with a change in disposition plan (from admit to discharge), acute or chronic cognitive impairment or mental status changes, and abnormal vital signs (a systolic blood pressure below 120 and heart rate above 90) had a greater likelihood of experiencing death or an ICU admission within 7 days of
Why do I feel confused and forgetful?
Stress, anxiety or depression can cause forgetfulness , confusion , difficulty concentrating and other problems that disrupt daily activities. Alcoholism. Chronic alcoholism can seriously impair mental abilities. Alcohol can also cause memory loss by interacting with medications.
Is confusion a sign of a stroke?
Sometimes a stroke happens gradually, but you’re likely to have one or more sudden symptoms like these: Numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side. Confusion or trouble understanding other people. Difficulty speaking.
How does a confused person act?
Confusion is a symptom that makes you feel as if you can’t think clearly. You might feel disoriented and have a hard time focusing or making decisions. Confusion is also referred to as disorientation. In its extreme state, it’s referred to as delirium.