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HealthInfo Canterbury


Delirium is a temporary state of confusion. It makes it difficult for you to pay attention and focus your thoughts.

If someone has delirium, they may be:

Causes of delirium can vary greatly but some can be serious and need urgent medical treatment.




If you think a family member or friend could have delirium, have them assessed by a doctor as soon as possible.

Delirium in later life

People of any age can get delirium but it's especially common in older people.

If you're an older person, your chance of developing delirium increases if you become ill and go into hospital.

Delirium usually clears in a few days or weeks, but it can slow the healing and recovery process.

Reduce the risk of delirium

Simple strategies can reduce the risk of delirium happening.

See these ideas to help reduce your risk of delirium.

See this guide for whānau/families for information about delirium and how to reduce the risk of your loved ones getting it.

Find out how you can help a family member or friend reduce their risk of developing delirium in hospital.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by consultant psychiatrist, Older Persons Health and Rehabilitation (OPH&R), Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed November 2020.


Page reference: 275674

Review key: HIDEL-275674