Delirium – Health Care Professionals

Clinical Guidelines

Discover the guidelines on delirium in older adults.

For Older Adults and Care Partners

Explore ways to support mental health and well-being for yourself and loved ones.

Delirium, a common and serious condition encountered in older adults, is a sudden and severe disturbance in thinking. It can cause changes in a person’s ability to stay alert, remember, be oriented to time or place, and speak or reason clearly. Sometimes, delirium is misdiagnosed as dementia or depression. It can often be prevented or treated.

Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of delirium is associated with worse outcomes. Older adults who are hospitalized and experience delirium also have a worse prognosis compared to their peers. They have prolonged hospital stays, higher institutionalized rates, worse functional outcomes, increased rates of cognitive decline, and higher mortality rates. Those who are discharged from the hospital are significantly more likely to die in the following year.


Discover our Resources

A cover for the Delirium Clinical Guidelines that features photos of older adults with cyan blue checkerboard pattern

Canadian Clinical Guidelines on Delirium Older Adults

Delirium can be caused by a number of factors, including but not limited to: infections, recent surgery, starting or increasing the dose of certain medications, not eating well or drinking enough water.

Sometimes, delirium is misdiagnosed as dementia or depression. It can often be prevented or treated.

CCSMH has developed best-practice clinical guidelines to support health care professionals when working with older adults who are experiencing delirium.

Cover for the Delirium Pocket Gudie with a large purple diamond shape and the logos for the CCSMH and the CAGP

Discover the clinician's pocket card for delirium in older adults.

The cover for the National Guidelines for Delirium in older adults cover with a blue colour and granite-style pattern overlay.

National Guidelines for Delirium (2006)

Learn more about delirium in these National ECHO program webinars

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