Prevalence, presentation and prognosis of delirium in older people in the population, at home and in long term care: a review

International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 04/23/2012

Delirium in a non–selected population aged 65+ years is uncommon. However, prevalence rises very quickly in selected older groups. Primary care doctors should be aware of a relatively high risk of delirium among the elderly in long–term care, those older than 85 years and those with dementia.

Methods

  • The method used in this study is a systematic PubMed search and literature review.

Results

  • The prevalence of delirium in the population among the elderly aged 65+ years is 1–2%.
  • Prevalence rises with age: 10% among a “general” population aged 85+ years.
  • Prevalence rises up to 22% in populations with higher percentages of demented elder.
  • In long-term care, prevalence ranges between 1.4% and 70%, depending on diagnostic criteria and on the prevalence of dementia.
  • There is a significant increase of the risk of delirium with age and cognitive decline in all groups.
  • Concerning prognosis, most studies agree that older people who previously experienced delirium have a higher risk of dementia and a higher mortality rate.
  • Concerning prognosis, most studies agree that older people who previously experienced delirium have a higher risk of dementia and a higher mortality rate.
  • Population and long-term care studies show the same tendency.

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