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Prevalence, presentation and prognosis of delirium in older people in the population, at home and in long term care: a review

Authors

  • E. de Lange,

    Corresponding author
    • Academische huisartsenpraktijk Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, AW, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • P. F. M. Verhaak,

    1. Department of General Practice, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, AV, Groningen, The Netherlands
    2. NIVEL, The Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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  • K. van der Meer

    1. Department of General Practice, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, AV, Groningen, The Netherlands
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E. de Lange, Msc, E-mail: e.de.lange@ahg.umcg.nl

Abstract

Objective

The aim of this study is to provide an overview of prevalence, symptoms, risk factors and prognosis of delirium in primary care and institutionalized long-term care.

Design

The method used in this study is a systematic PubMed search and literature review.

Results

The prevalence of delirium in the population among the elderly aged 65+ years is 1–2%. Prevalence rises with age: 10% among a “general” population aged 85+ years. Prevalence rises up to 22% in populations with higher percentages of demented elder. In long-term care, prevalence ranges between 1.4% and 70%, depending on diagnostic criteria and on the prevalence of dementia. There is a significant increase of the risk of delirium with age and cognitive decline in all groups. Concerning prognosis, most studies agree that older people who previously experienced delirium have a higher risk of dementia and a higher mortality rate. Population and long-term care studies show the same tendency.

Conclusions

Delirium in a non-selected population aged 65+ years is uncommon. However, prevalence rises very quickly in selected older groups. Primary care doctors should be aware of a relatively high risk of delirium among the elderly in long-term care, those older than 85 years and those with dementia. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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