According to the American Delirium Society, seven million hospitalized adults experience delirium each year. They become confused and disoriented. And, according to the National Institute on Aging, they become at increased risk for dementia, loss of independence and death.
Delirium and dementia have similar symptoms so it can be hard to distinguish them. But, delirium usually comes suddenly and often causes hallucinations. Moreover, people often do recover entirely from delirium once it is treated. In contrast, dementia develops slowly, does not cause hallucinations and cannot be reversed.
Research is underway to identify the causes of delirium in hospital in order to prevent its onset. Allowing hospital patients to sleep uninterrupted for eight hours may help prevent delirium. Not using physical restraints on patients could also help, along with ensuring that patients are walking around in hospital as soon as possible and opening blinds to allow sunlight in the room.
Here are a few other posts on delirium from Just Care: