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Am J Emerg Med. 1994 May;12(3):364-9.

Diagnosing psychiatric emergencies in the elderly.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Gainesville, FL 32608.


Psychiatric emergencies in the elderly form a small percent of all elderly patients treated in emergency departments. However, accurately diagnosing and understanding behavioral emergencies in the elderly is difficult. Emergency behavioral syndromes in the elderly include confusion, agitation, psychosis, and behavioral regression. Causes of these syndromes in the elderly include delirium, dementia, medication side effects, physical illnesses, depression, and alcohol intoxication/dependency. Emergency physicians should consider each of these diagnostic possibilities when evaluating elderly behavioral emergencies to properly diagnose and treat elderly patients.

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