Hydration and Delirium

By 3  pm On

Dehydration in seniors can cause delirium and confusion. According to Today’s Caregiver, here’s why older adults should focus on hydration and what caregivers should know about this important topic.

 

Did you know that:

  • Delirium is different from dementia?
  • Dehydration is a cause of delirium?
  • Older adults can avoid delirium by staying hydrated?

Delirium is a mental disturbance characterized by new or worsening confusion, changes in level of consciousness or hallucinations. Delirium is different from the slow progression of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It has a sudden onset from hours to days and although delirium can be reversed, it is easier to prevent than cure.

All “elderly” adults (people over 65 years old) are at risk for delirium due to factors involving their own internal weakness and environmental insults. Some risk factors, such as advanced age or having dementia, are fixed. Other risk factors such as pain, malnutrition, dehydration, sensory loss, depression and fever are modifiable with intervention. With each factor present, delirium risk increases. Therefore, the key to preventing delirium is reducing the number of modifiable risk factors.

Infection and dehydration are common modifiable delirium risk factors. Older adults usually know when they have an infection, but do not recognize when they are dehydrated.