Why don’t you try? : Find out what to do if someone becomes very confused very suddenly
A sudden change in a person’s mental state could be due to delirium. Delirium could lead to increased confusion, disorientation, or difficulty with concentration, and can come on very quickly. It can occur when you are medically unwell and can be caused by infections, pain or dehydration.
It can have a significant impact on the way a person behaves and functions, especially if they also have dementia. Delirium can be very distressing both for the individual and the people who are caring for them.
What to do
Contact the person’s GP for an urgent assessment and advice. If a GP is unavailable and the confusion or disorientation has come on suddenly, contact the duty doctor who, if necessary, will arrange an ambulance.
How is delirium treated?
The doctor may request blood and urine tests and will be able to decide on appropriate treatment. They may also want to review any medication that could be contributing to the delirium.
There is also evidence that delirium can be prevented by targeting potential causes. You can avoid some of the causes of the confusion, like constipation, dehydration and infection, by ensuring the person stays well hydrated, observes hand hygiene and follows any advice they’re given about wound care and medical devices (such as urinary catheters). If possible, you should also avoid the person moving beds or wards in hospital.
- What can I do to help someone with delirium?
If you have contacted the person’s GP and are awaiting treatment, there are a few things you could do to make the situation a little easier for them:
- Keep calm and reassure the person.
- Use short simple sentences when talking.
- Observe the person to see if they are in any pain.
- Make sure there’s nothing obscuring their senses, and have their glasses and hearing aid to hand if they use them.
- Use familiar photos and objects to distract the person and provide familiarity.
- Help ground the person by making sure they know the time and date.
- Help the person to find the toilet if needed.
- Avoid too much stimulation and having too many people around if possible.
- Keep a low light on at night.
- Avoid disagreeing with the person too much. Change the subject if they express ideas that seem odd to you.
- Offer them drinks to maintain hydration
Here’s a tip for you to try this week :
Research how to deal with confusion and memory loss, Look at what activities and adaptations can be used around their home to ease their confusion, Speak to a GP or dementia specific charity/support group, Arrange a needs assessment for how to help them further with your local authority,
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