Managing Delirium – Strategies

What do I do if I suspect that the person in my care is in a delirium? Here are some suggestions.

Try to stay calm. Here are four strategies that might help (click to expand).

Stay Calm


  • If possible, have a familiar person stay with them so they are not alone.
  • Limit noise, such as radio or television. You can try soothing music but turn it off if it causes agitation.
  • Dim the lighting in the room. Shadows from bright lights can increase hallucinations.
  • Ensure that the person is wearing their glasses, dentures and hearing aids. It is important that they can communicate what they need and hear what you are saying.
Woman on couch

Create a quiet and familiar environment

Encourage the usual routine

Status Quo

  • Encourage them to be as active as they normally would, safely indoors.
  • Encourage them to eat and drink at mealtimes by offering simple meals and easy to eat foods. It is important to encourage good nutrition even if the person is not hungry or thirsty.

Get Help

  • Any suspected sudden change in mental status should be reported to a health care professional as soon as possible. The cause for the change needs to be determined. 
  • An assessment and diagnosis of delirium, as quickly as possible, will lead to a proper plan of treatment and action.
  • Ideally, you would connect with a trusted health care professional who is aware of the person’s health history as soon as possible. However, if this is not possible, seek medical attention from your closest medical facility (e.g. walk-in-clinic, emergency department, etc.)

Seek medical attention as soon as possible

Activity 6.4 – Try a Tool

There are trusted strategies that you can use that may prevent delirium from developing. For proven ways to prevent delirium, see Strategies to Prevent Delirium

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