When your loved one is suddenly unable to think clearly, seems confused by even the simplest conversation, and does not seem to know where she is or what’s going on, the issue may be delirium.
Because the problem comes on suddenly, it can be difficult for friends and family members to know what to do or how to help their loved one to feel “normal” again.
If you believe that your loved one has been struck by delirium, mental health treatment can help. Contact us today to discuss which type of treatment program will be the best option for your family member.
Causes of Delirium
- Taking too much or the wrong combination of medication
- A surgery
- Substance abuse or overdose
- Hospitalization or serious illness
When a Symptom of Delirium Is No Symptoms
The symptoms of delirium – confusion, a disconnection to one’s surroundings – fluctuate throughout the day, and sometimes, they disappear completely. Someone who suffers from delirium will experience periods in which they seem to be perfectly fine.
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between delirium and dementia. The confusion, wandering, rambling conversation, hallucinations, and inability to comprehend what’s going on around them can be an issue in both circumstances.
There are three issues that can help you to differentiate between delirium and dementia. Delirium comes on suddenly while dementia often starts slowly with little symptoms that come and go, steadily getting worse. Because of this, patients with dementia are alert and aware most of the time while those with delirium are not. Fluctuation of symptoms is the final distinguishing factor; patients with either disorder will have good and bad times of the day but those with dementia work at the same level of cognitive function all day long.
To make matters more confusing, patients who experience delirium often also suffer from dementia. In all cases, it is helpful for a family member who is familiar with their loved one’s medical and mental health history to attend doctors’ appointments and be available for the diagnosis and treatment regimen decisions.
Prevention of Delirium
Unlike most mental health issues, there are some strategies you can employ to help your loved one avoid delirium.
- Solid and restful sleep
- Hydration at all times
- Nutritious food regularly
- Consistent discussion with the patient about who they are, where they are, the time of day, and what’s going on around them if they are immobilized for long periods
- Range of motion exercises
- Avoiding drug treatment for sleep or anxiety
Treatment for Delirium
Depending upon the trigger for delirium, different treatments will be appropriate to help your loved one feel more grounded and responsively in the moment again. If the triggering issue is substance abuse, for example, it may be appropriate to help your loved one into an addiction treatment program.
If the triggering issue was malnutrition or dehydration, then attention to these issues may be the first course of action.