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Delirium Versus Dementia

Posted Jun 16 2013 12:36pm
Delirium, which occurs suddenly, is not the same as dementia, although individuals with dementia are more susceptible to developing delirium during hospitalizations or from infections.

By Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room  

Delirium Versus Dementia

Delirium causes severe confusion and rapid changes in brain function that occur with physical or mental illness.

Delirium usually causes a serious disturbance in a person's mental abilities that results in a decreased awareness of one's environment and confused thinking.

The onset of delirium is usually sudden. 

Delirium results in an alteration in mental status and brain failure in a vulnerable individual, often an older adults.

Delirium can be caused  by surgery, medications, urinary tract infection, pneumonia, lack of sleep, excessive light, noise or pain.

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Symptoms of Delirium
    Reduced awareness of the environment that may result in an inability to stay focused on a topic, or wandering attention. Also includes changes in alertness which can happen from day to night. Cognitive Impairment or poor thinking skills. This can include the inability to think or behave with purpose, rambling or nonsensical speech, disorientation (like not knowing where one is), and confusion about time and place. Behavior changes like seeing things that don't exist, extreme changes in emotion or personality (like anger, agitation, anxiety, or apathy).

While delirium usually comes on suddenly, dementia is the result of a progressive decline in memory and thinking skills that is caused by the death of brain cells.

Dementia affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, behavior, and a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities.

Dementia is a word that describes symptoms of the gradual deterioration of mental functioning that cannot be explained by normal aging.

Symptoms of dementia can include: 

  • Memory loss 
  • Difficulty communicating 
  • Difficulty with complex tasks 
  • Difficulty with planning and organizing 
  • Difficulty with coordination and motor functions 
  • Problems with disorientation, such as getting lost Personality changes 
  • Inability to reason 
  • Inappropriate behavior 
  • Paranoia 
  • Agitation 
  • Hallucinations

For a comprehensive discussion of dementia see the following

Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized Influencer, speaker, and expert in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community Worldwide. The Alzheimer's Reading Knowledge Base contains more than 4,000 articles, and the ARR has more than 343,000 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.Read what others are saying about the  Alzheimer's Reading Room
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