Preventing delirium in the hospital

Clocks and calendars may help patients stay oriented.

Being a hospital patient can be a disorienting and somewhat frightening experience. Being a hospital patient in the throes of delirium is a lot worse.

Delirium, which usually comes on suddenly, is a confused and scrambled state of mind. Memory and other types of thinking become disorganized. Hallucinations may occur. Symptoms fluctuate unpredictably, and the uneven course can make the experience even more bewildering. Classically, delirium has been associated with agitation and restlessness, but there's growing recognition that it can also put people into a hypoactive state that makes them withdrawn and seemingly drowsy.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »