If you're the relative or primary caregiver of a person with delirium, you'll likely play a role in making an appointment or providing information to the doctor.
What you can do
You can prepare for the appointment — or for a meeting with a doctor if the person is hospitalized — by making a list of these items:
- Medications. Include all prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, as well as dietary supplements, the person takes. Pay special attention to recent medication changes, including additions or deletions.
- Doctors. Provide the names and contact information of any doctors, therapists or other clinicians who provide care for the person.
- Symptoms. Record the time of onset, a description of all symptoms and minor changes in behaviors that may have preceded the onset of delirium symptoms.
- Questions. List questions from most to least important, because you may have limited time with the doctor.
What to expect from the doctor
Be prepared to answer the following questions, which may help the doctor assess the person's condition and make a diagnosis:
Aug. 15, 2012
- What are the symptoms and when did they begin?
- Has the person been diagnosed with dementia?
- Has the person been ill recently with a fever, cough or urinary symptoms?
- Has the person experienced a recent head injury or other trauma?
- What were the person's memory and other thinking skills like before the onset of symptoms?
- How well did the person perform everyday activities before the onset of symptoms?
- Can he or she usually function independently?
- What other medical conditions have been diagnosed?
- Does the person take prescription medications as directed? When was the most recent dose?
- Do you know if the person recently used or has a history of alcohol or recreational drug use?
- Has the person recently appeared depressed, extremely sad or withdrawn?
- Has the person indicated that he or she does not feel safe?
- Has the person shown any signs of paranoia?
- Has the person seen or heard things that no one else does?
- Does the person have any new physical symptoms?
- 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.