Delirium 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, speak or reason clearly. Delirium is a common and serious condition often experienced by older people.

Delirium can be caused by many things including having an infection, recent surgery, various medical conditions, untreated pain, starting, increasing or stopping some medicines, or not eating or sleeping well.

Delirium is sometimes not recognized or is misdiagnosed as another condition such as dementia or depression. Delirium can often be prevented.

Tools for Seniors and Families:

Delirium Prevention and Care with Older Adults (Available in English, French, Punjabi, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese)

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Tools for Clinicians:

National Guidelines for Seniors’ Mental Health

  • Assessment and Treatment of Delirium – 2014 Update
  • Assessment and Treatment of Delirium – 2006
  • Clinician’s Pocket Card

  • Delirium: Assessment & Treatment for Older Adults
  • Delirium in the Elderly: CCSMH National Guidelines-Informed, Interactive, Case-Based Tutorial
    Guideline on the Assessment and Treatment of Delirium in Older Adults at the End of Life


    [updated October 13, 2017]