The ‘D’ word we don’t talk about- enough

Originally posted

At this time of year many of us, regardless of age, can get the flu. Unfortunately for seniors, the flu can be particularly dangerous- for a number of reasons
– Pneumonia
– Dehydration
– Greater falls risk with weakness
– Body weakness and
– Delirium- the topic of today’s blog

I had previously written about hospital acquired delirium which I believe merits reposting.
“Delirium is one of the 3 big ‘D’s that we see with our older clients. The other ‘D’’s are dementia and depression but I suppose the biggest ‘D’ out there is death. I recently came across a Reader’s Digest article while waiting at a doctor’s office that had been reprinted from The Walrus. The original title is “Why Is No One Talking About Hospital-Acquired Delirium?’” Read more about Delirium

Over this holiday period I had a number of clients get sick, enter hospital and develop delirium. The Mayo clinic shares that the ‘signs and symptoms of delirium usually begin over a few hours or a few days. They fluctuate throughout the day, and there may be periods of no symptoms. Symptoms tend to be worse during the night when it’s dark and things look less familiar. Primary signs and symptoms include:

Reduced awareness of the environment, such as:
– An inability to stay focused on a topic
– Getting stuck on an idea rather than responding to questions or conversation
– Being easily distracted by unimportant things
– Being withdrawn, with little or no activity or little response to the environment
Poor thinking skills, such as:
– Poor memory
– Disorientation
– Difficulty speaking or recalling words
– Rambling or nonsense speech
– Trouble understanding speech
– Difficulty reading or writing
Behaviour Changes and may include:
– Seeing things (hallucinations)
– Restlessness, agitation and combative behaviour
– Calling out, moaning or being quiet and withdrawn
– Slowed movement or lethargy
– Disturbed sleep and reversal of night-day-wake cycle
Emotional Disturbance such as:
– Anxiety, fear or paranoia
– Depression
– Irritability or anger
– Apathy or euphoria
– Rapid mood shifts

The risk here is that the amount of recovery can be dependent on the health and mental status of the individual before the onset of delirium.
A healthy person is more likely to recover; those who already have MCI or some degree of dementia, may not.

Lesson Learnt: If you notice any of the above symptoms, have them checked out.

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