One of the most common mistakes made when it comes to a sudden change in a loved one’s cognitive status is to assume it is a normal part of aging. “Grandpa is getting senile.” Mom is just getting old.” Although cognitive abilities do tend to dull somewhat with age, it is not normal for someone to have a sudden, drastic change in mental capability. More often than not, the sudden change is a result of an underlying issue.

[quote_box author=”William Zagorski” profession=”Centennial Adultcare Center”]In general, dementia mainly affects a person’s memory, where delirium affects attention.[/quote_box]

Delirium and dementia are the two leading causes of cognitive impairment. The two conditions can be difficult to differentiate, however there are significant distinctions that must be made between the two disorders. In general, dementia mainly affects a person’s memory, where delirium affects attention. Delirium is acute and usually reversible, while dementia is chronic and sometimes progressive. Delirium is most often caused by an illness or an adverse drug interaction or toxicity, or other underlying conditions (dehydration, chemical imbalance, etc.) and commonly develops in individuals who already have some form of dementia. This easily leads to a misdiagnosis as the delirium is mistaken as a progression in dementia, and the underlying cause (illness or drug interaction) is left unfound. This is a common mistake in the elderly population as there is no definitive test for either delirium or dementia. However, the more knowledge you have of your loved one, the easier it is to recognize sudden changes in behaviors and cognition, therefore allowing you and your primary care physician the ability to look beyond the dementing illness and find the fundamental cause of the delirium. It is imperative to recognize and treat the cause of delirium immediately as most conditions which cause it can be life-threatening.

It is often difficult to constantly monitor your loved ones cognitive abilities while balancing the rest of your daily life. As a result, the professionals at Centennial Adultcare Center are here to assist in that daily care and monitoring. Our program assistants, nurses, social workers, dietitian, and administrators have decades of experience in caring for individuals with dementia, as well as recognizing the onset of acute delirium in all of our members. Contact us at (615)383-3399 or here, and see how we can assist you and your loved one today.