Communication and Delirium

A challenge faced by caregivers is how to communicate with health care professionals about delirium. Delirium is so complex that it can even be missed or unrecognized by health care professionals. It’s important to be prepared to speak with health care professionals so that they can provide help by offering recommendations, strategies, or other forms of assistance. The following are some helpful tips on how to communicate with health care professionals.

Offer Detail

  • Use the list of common signs and symptoms from the previous section to explain what sudden changes you are noticing
  • Bring your completed delirium detection questionnaire
  • Bring a complete list of all medications with their dosages and the bottles/packages
  • Be prepared to answer the following questions that the health care professional may ask you:
    • What changes are you noticing? How is this different than the usual?
    • When did you notice this change?
    • Has this ever happened before? When and if possible, why?
    • Have they taken any new medications prescribed or have there been changes to their usual medications? What medications and if possible, why?
  • Beyond explaining who you are and the relationship you have with the person, offer details about your caregiving role and the support you provide

Ask Questions

  • Is there anything more I should be doing to manage this delirium? The health care professional may offer treatment and or additional strategies for you to use.
  • What should I do if delirium reoccurs? The health care professional may recommend what to do and where to go if you notice delirium occurring again. They may recommend different places to seek help depending on certain signs and symptoms (e.g. their clinic, a walk-in-clinic, or emergency department).
  • What supports are available in the community for someone with delirium? Health care professionals should know about geriatric teams, and community programs that can support delirium management in your area. They will be able to tell you and the person you care for about these services and if they think a referral is needed and how they may want to support ongoing care after a diagnosis of delirium is made.

Activity 6.5 – Pause and Reflect

Write down one or two strategies from this module that could be useful for you in your caregiving. Write these strategies down in your Reflection Journal.

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