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World Delirium Awareness Day 2024

13th March 2024

World Delirium Day logo

World Delirium Awareness Day is an annual event that is held in March to raise awareness about delirium and its impact on patients, families, and healthcare systems.

Delirium is a condition that can happen when someone becomes unwell, and they become muddled and disorientated. Delirium is common, with approximately 20% of hospitalised adults developing delirium. Rates are higher in older patients, with some studies suggesting that up to 40% of older people may be affected whilst in hospital

As part of World Delirium Awareness Day we’re highlighting the symptoms to look out for, the types of people who are at risk and how you can help prevent delirium from happening.

Symptoms you might see

  • Sudden onset of confusion, or increased level of confusion, not being able to think clearly
  • Sudden onset of behaviour different to normal – agitated or distressed
  • Marked disorientation, such as not knowing where you are, difficulty understanding what is happening around you.
  • Hallucinations, may see or hear things that are not actually there
  • Strange ideas and/or paranoia
  • They may appear less alert and may seem drowsy/sleepy
  • It is usual that a person’s behaviour and symptoms can vary, and are often more apparent at night.

The rate of delirium is higher in older people, but there are some other specific groups who have an increased risk of delirium:

  • Someone living with dementia •
  • A person of an advanced age, older than 65 years •
  • Had recent major surgery, stroke or heart attack
  • Someone on a lot of medication •
  • Someone who has an infection, chest / urine
  • A person living with a visual or hearing impairment •
  • Someone with an ongoing psychiatric illness
  • Someone with mobility problems •
  • A person living with a chronic illness (e.g. kidney failure, diabetes)
How family/friends can help

There are some simply things that we can do to help those at risk of delirium.

  • Visiting them regularly
  • Ensure they have their glasses or hearing aids
  • Remain calm and provide them reassurance
  • Encourage them to eat and drink when possible
  • Notify a health professional if you become aware of any behavioural changes in your relative or friend