Do you know about delirium?

Posted on Wed, 07/03/2018 by Dr Catherine Kirkley, Consultant Old Age Liaison Psychiatrist

Dr Catherine Kirkley

Delirium is something we encounter frequently in hospital. Typically, a relative or carer will notice that the person has become confused over the space of a day or two, they may be sleepy or agitated and have difficulty concentrating.

Hallucinations are common and can be very distressing and frightening for both patients and carers alike. Most of all people worry that their relative will not return to their usual self.

In Gateshead we have a fantastic mental health liaison team for older people in the QE who are working with people with delirium and their families every day.

Our patients are often surprised to meet a mental health nurse or doctor in a general hospital, but value the support our team are able to provide in helping them to understand what is happening to them. In some cases the symptoms can persist for some time and here we are able to handover to our community team for ongoing care.

To coincide with World Delirium Awareness Day (14th March) we’ve produced a new video to try and raise awareness of the condition and help people understand more about it.

My colleague Dr Featherston is the star of the new video which we hope will help patients and families spot a common, but often misunderstood medical condition.

Although anyone can get delirium older people, people living with dementia and patients in intensive care have the greatest susceptibility. In fact, international studies show that up to 1 in 4 older hospital patients will get delirium.

It’s important to say that delirium is different from dementia. Delirium comes on quickly and usually resolves over days whereas dementia develops slowly over many months and mostly cannot be reversed.

If you’re concerned that a family member may have delirium then this video will be really helpful in understanding what you can do to spot the signs.

Watch our delirium video on YouTube

Find out more about World Delirium Awareness Day

Call us on 0191 482 0000

In emergencies dial 999 / Non-emergencies dial 111

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