Delirium is very common in patients with advanced illnesses. With delirium, patients have periods where they are suddenly confused and unaware of what is going on around them. They may become agitated and restless or withdrawn. Delirium can be very upsetting for family members to witness. If your loved one develops signs of delirium, let his or her physician know right away. In some cases, the cause of the delirium can be treated; in others, steps can be takin to help manage delirium and ensure your loved one's safety and comfort.
Delirium often has multiple cases; these can include:
There are two mains types of delirium: hypoactive and hyperactive. Patients can have one or both types. In hypoactive state, patients are sleepy and withdrawn; they may show little interest in their surroundings. In a hyperactive state, patients are excitable and agitated; they may become violent and may believe in or see things that aren't there. Most patients with delirium will also have the following symptoms:
Your loved one's physician will try to identify the cause of the delirium and treat it, if possible. Sometimes the cause cannot be found, or treatment may be available, but it may be too much of a burden at this point in their illness. In such cases, the main goal of treatment is to manage the delirium and keep you loved one safe and comfortable. Your physician may tell you to do the following: