Delirium may last only a few hours or as long as several weeks or months. If factors contributing to delirium are addressed, the recovery time is often shorter.

The degree of recovery depends to some extent on the health and mental status before the onset of delirium. People with dementia, for example, may experience a significant overall decline in memory and thinking skills. People in better health are more likely to recover fully.

People with other serious, chronic or terminal illnesses may not regain the levels of thinking skills or functioning that they had before the onset of delirium. Delirium in seriously ill people is also more likely to lead to:

  • General decline in health
  • Poor recovery from surgery
  • Need for institutional care
  • Increased risk of death
Aug. 15, 2012