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HomeDeliriumWho can get delirium?
Who can get delirium?

Delirium is complex and a number of different things can contribute to the cause. The greatest risk for developing a delirium, is having a cognitive impairment such as dementia or an intellectual disability. There are screening tools available for health care staff to assess and manage the risk of delirium for each patient.


Causes may include:

  • Infection
  • Multiple physical illnesses
  • Severe pain
  • Medications
  • Unfamiliar surroundings of a hospital and multiple relocations
  • Insufficient food and drink
  • Difficulty urinating and opening bowels
  • Recent fall
  • Invasive surgery


Know your risks


Risks of delirium before coming to hospital

Risks of delirium while in hospital

  • People aged 65 and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 45 and over​
  • Severe illness
  • Recent falls
  • Hip fracture/ Cardiac surgery
  • Previous history of delirium
  • Unrecognised pain and/or inadequately managed pain relief
  • People on more than four medications
  • Visual and hearing impairment
  • Three or more changes to your usual medication in a 24hr period
  • Multiple bed moves
  • Indwelling catheters
  • Pain
  • Low oxygen, low blood sugar levels and low blood pressure
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Anaesthesia
  • Difficulty passing urine or opening your bowels


Potential risks after developing a delirium ​

  • Increased risk of falls
  • Increased risk of pressure injuries
  • Increase stay in hospital
  • Increase risk of incontinence