Delirium affects a quarter of older people in hospital and has the same death rate as a heart attack yet it is often missed or untreated by health professionals in hospitals, residential aged care facilities and the community.
This concern was raised by academics from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the Prince of Wales Hospital, in east Sydney, on the most recent World Delirium Day.
Dr Annmarie Hosie, a post-doctoral research fellow at UTS, said delirium occurs when illnesses, injury, surgery or medicines cause a sudden and severe decline in a person’s mental function.
“The result is reduced ability to concentrate, think and communicate, and sleepiness and/or agitation,” Hosie and her colleagues said. “Many people also have disturbing hallucinations or paranoid delusions. Delirium usually lasts for hours to days, but for some people it may last for weeks, even months.”
Hosie sat down with Nursing Review to discuss the reasons delirium is often missed and the signs health professionals should look out for.Do you have an idea for a story?
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