Delirium is a medical condition that causes a temporary problem with mental function.

Delirium in older adults often goes unrecognized by health care professionals. Studies have shown that up to 67% of delirium cases were not recognized by physicians and 43% of cases were not recognized by nurses caring for the patients.*

  • It often begins quite suddenly.
  • The symptoms tend to come and go, and often increase at night.
  • It is a medical emergency, and early diagnoses and treatment offer the best chance of recovery.

Delirium is NOT a mental illness, nor is it the same as dementia.


We encourage you to use this site as a resource for information about delirium, whether you are a health care professional, or a family member or caregiver for someone at risk for delirium.

Families often recognize a noticeable and rapid change in their loved one, so talk about these changes, even if no one asks!


* Inouye, S. (2000). Assessment and management of delirium in hospitalized older patients. Annals of LTC, 8 (12), 53-59.