Alzheimer's & Dementia

How To Tell The Difference Between Delirium And Dementia

Sudden irrational behavior and mental confusion are mutual indicators of both delirium and dementia, which makes confusion of the two illnesses common. Nonetheless, dementia and delirium are very different health-related problems, and it’s vital for caregivers and facility staff to understand the difference. Delirium is actually life-threatening and requires emergency care.

How can dementia caregivers recognize delirium in Dayton?

If an older patient displays a sudden onset of confusion, lack of focus, bewilderment, or hallucinations, medical help must be called. Delirium is an acute medical issue, clinically diagnosed by behavioral observation. It can be a temporary and reversible condition if the underlying source is treated quickly enough.
Some common triggers of delirium, especially in older persons would be:

  • Head trauma
  • Dehydration
  • Infections and/or fever
  • Liver failure
  • Drug interactions or abuse
  • Brain tumors

Any facility that cares for older adults is likely to see patients suffering from delirium, as it’s also prompted by overconsumption of alcohol, UTIs, and illnesses. Sometimes medical or dental procedures that require anesthesia also become problematic, and even lack of sleep can lead to delirium.
Symptoms of delirium:

  • Fast changing behavior/attitude
  • Inability to have a rational conversation
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Jumbled thinking
  • Unexpected emotional outbursts
  • Delusions or hallucinations

How is delirium different from dementia?

Delirium and dementia can seem similar at first glance, but delirium always begins abruptly, whereas dementia progresses slowly over long periods of time. Once a patient has medical treatment, delirium can be temporary, but dementia isn’t reversible.

Why is it necessary to understand the difference?

Delirium is typically just a first-warning sign that there’s a serious underlying medical issue. The patient will need prompt medical treatment before there are permanent or life-threatening problems.
Delirium can often go unrecognized in dementia patients by facility medical staff since their symptoms could easily be attributed to decline from dementia. Emergency help must be called when symptoms of delirium are recognized.
Patients with dementia are known to suffer frequently from delirium if they are hospitalized, but after the root cause of their delirium is treated, they will begin to feel better and challenging behaviors will subside. During the critical time, patients need a quiet, safe and comfortable environment as much as can be provided.
Does the senior in your life need dementia care in Dayton, OH?
Call Home Care Assistance of Dayton at 937-353-1412 and let us provide you with a top of the line dementia care provider for your loved one.

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