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The Importance of Preventing and Treating Delirium 

Delirium is a sudden change in a person’s mental state. It causes problems with attention, thinking, memory, and emotion. Delirium can change over the course of hours or days.

Delirium is a common condition that can be treated. It is seen as a medical emergency. If delirium is not diagnosed and treated, it can lead to permanent problems. In some cases it can lead to death. 

How Delirium Causes Harm

Delirium has a big effect on the health of older adults. Following an episode of delirium, older adults tend to have a decline in their daily functioning. They also have a higher risk of death.

Studies have shown certain things about delirium, such as:

  • It can cause faster mental decline in a person with dementia

  • An episode of delirium greatly increases risk for dementia in a person without dementia

  • An episode of delirium can make a person more likely to live in a long-term care facility

  • It puts someone at higher risk of dying within 6 to 12 months 

Delirium is a common condition that can be treated. Prevention is important. If delirium is not treated right away, it can lead to a poor outcome for the person. 

When a person has delirium, it can take days, weeks, or months for it to go away. In some cases, a person may not fully recover. Because of this, it is seen as a medical emergency. If delirium is not diagnosed and treated, it can lead to permanent harm. In some cases it can lead to death.

If you suspect that your loved one may have delirium, seek help from a health care provider right away. Or call 911 or your local emergency number.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 6/30/2013
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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