Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2013 Aug 20;133(15):1596-600. doi: 10.4045/tidsskr.12.1327.

[Delirium in elderly patients].

[Article in Norwegian]

Author information

  • 1Institutt for klinisk medisin, Universitetet i Oslo, Norway.



Delirium, «acute confusional state», is a frequent and serious complication of acute illness, particularly in the elderly. The strain on the patient, the next of kin and the health service is considerable. The purpose of the article is to provide healthcare personnel who deal with delirium with updated information about the condition.


The article is based on a literature search in PubMed combined with articles from the author's own archives and own clinical experience.


Delirium is a serious acute medical condition that is often overlooked in the elderly. The prevalence is estimated to be between 11% and 42% for elderly patients on medical wards and close to 50% in patients with hip fractures. The prevalence is probably also high in nursing homes, but this is less well surveyed. Advanced age and dementia are the most important risk factors. Traumas, infections, stroke and metabolic disturbances are the most common triggering factors. The pathophysiology is poorly surveyed and the possibilities for drug treatment are few and are little studied. Delirium is associated with increased risk of dementia, loss of function and mortality. Short-term use of low-dosage antipsychotics is the first-line choice, but is contraindicated for patients with Parkinsonian symptoms.


Detection and treatment of triggering causes must have high priority in case of delirium. Non-drug interventions are most important to prevent and treat the condition.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Norwegian Medical Association
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk