Delirium Vs. Dementia Comparison for Chatham County

April 11, 2017

Dementia and delirium can be difficult to distinguish unless you know the underlying causes. Delirium is defined as an acutely disturbed state of mind that occurs in fever, intoxication, and other disorders and is characterized by restlessness, illusions, and incoherence of thought and speech. There are two kinds of delirium, hypoactive and hyperactive. Hypoactive is common in the elderly and it can cause sleepiness, inactivity, slowness and withdrawal. Hyperactive delirium causes restlessness, repeating movements, hallucinations, delusions and the person may seem afraid. Sometimes a person may have signs of both at the same time, but hyperactive delirium is easier to recognize.

Delirium symptoms can mimic dementia symptoms and even depression which can make it harder to diagnose. In addition, having dementia, Parkinson’s disease or suffering a stroke can predispose you to delirium as well as being elderly or having past delirium episodes. Most common triggers for delirium include fever or flu, urinary tract infection, toxicity, sleep deprivation or anesthesia. Pain, asthma drugs, low oxygen and Parkinson’s can also increase these episodes. Delirium can last from hours or days to months. The best thing to do as a caregiver is to make sure the person is eating well, getting plenty of rest, keep things simple and organized and don’t overdo it with visitors. Use family photos and familiar blanket to create a familiar environment.
Have a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s in the Chapel Hill or Durham area?
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Acorn can help you get qualified, compassionate in home care givers.

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