If you're a relative or caregiver of someone at risk of or recovering from delirium, you can take steps to improve the person's health, prevent a recurrence and help manage responsibilities.
Promote good sleep habits
To promote good sleep habits:
- Keep inside lighting appropriate for the time of day
- Encourage exercise and activity during the day
- Offer warm, soothing, noncaffeinated beverages before bedtime
Promote calmness and orientation
To help the person remain calm and well oriented:
- Provide a clock and calendar and refer to them regularly throughout the day
- Communicate simply about any change in activity, such as time for lunch or time for bed
- Keep familiar and favorite objects around, but avoid a cluttered environment
- Approach the person calmly
- Identify yourself or other people regularly
- Avoid arguments
- Keep noise levels and other distractions to a minimum
- Help the person keep a regular daytime schedule
- Maintain and provide eyeglasses and hearing aids
Prevent complicating problems
Help prevent medical problems by:
- Giving the person his or her medication on a regular schedule
- Providing plenty of fluids and a healthy diet
- Encouraging regular exercise and activity
Caring for the caregiver
If you're providing regular care for a person with or at risk of delirium, consider support groups, educational materials or other resources offered by the person's health care provider, nonprofit organizations, community health services and government agencies.
Examples of organizations that may provide helpful information include the National Family Caregivers Association and the National Institute on Aging.
Aug. 15, 2012
- Delirium. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed May 22, 2012.
- Dementia. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed May 22, 2012.
- Ghandour A, et al. Detecting and treating delirium - key interventions you may be missing. The Journal of Family Practice. 2011;60:726.
- Martinez FT, et al. Preventing delirium in an acute hospital using a non-pharmacological intervention. Age and Aging. 2012;0:1.
- Francis J, et al. Diagnosis of delirium and confusional states. http://www.uptodate.com/index.html. Accessed May 24, 2012.
- Tips and resources for caregivers: Caring for yourself when you are caring for others. Ask Medicare: Information to help you care for others. http://www.medicare.gov/caregivers/caregiver-topics-support.html. Accessed May 24, 2012.
- Takahashi PY (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 28, 2012 & August 6, 2012.
- Philbrick KL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 30, 2012.
- Sampson S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 27, 2012.