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Dementia and Delirium
by John Burton, M.D.
Dementia results from brain damage. The causes include the following; Alzheimer’s Disease, Stroke, Pick’s disease, Huntington’s, Downs Syndrome, Creutzfeldt-Jacob, AIDS, alcoholism, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerations.
A diagnosis of dementia is based on:
Additionally, depression, delirium (discussed below), agitation, hallucinations, and delusions are important comorbidities that must be taken into consideration. Behavioral issues may require a referral to a specialist.
Dementia vs Delirium
Prevention of delirium includes the avoidance of psychoactive drugs, quiet environment, daytime activity, dark and quiet at night, visual and hearing assistive devices, orientation devices, and avoidance of restraints.
Diagnosis of delirium is based on clinical observation; no diagnostic tests are available. The essestial features of delirium include:
Treatment of delirium, like dementia, is managed both pharmacologically and non-pharmacologically.
Ann Intern Med 2004: 140; 501.
Visit the Mental Health Association of Maryland for additional information and assistance.