Delirium or an acute confusional state, occurs as a result of disease or physiological imbalance secondary to impaired brain function. One of its main clinical features is widespread cognitive impairment, which causes patients to become disconnected from their immediate surroundings and misinterpret reality. It has a sudden onset and its duration is relatively brief. Some authors take the view that delirium might be interpreted as a precursor to dementia. The aim of the study was to retrospectively explore older peoples’ experience of an episode of delirium. In particular, whether they knew what had caused and cured it; and whether it had left them with any unresolved feelings of anxiety. A cross sectional design using grounded theory methodology was chosen, as being the most appropriate method for exploring this issue. A sample of 19 patients was selected using predetermined criteria, and engaged in a semi-structured interview with the researcher, in the ward environment. The interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and analysed using the constant comparison method. Those interviewees who had illusions and hallucinations, were often able to describe their experiences in detail. They ranged from being pleasant and entertaining, to horrible and frightening. They were also able to remember short verbal commands from nurses during the episode of altered perception. Others remembered, or chose not to remember, very little. Few interviewees appeared to know exactly what had caused and cured the delirium, although some were able to tentatively connect the experience to their present medical condition. There also appeared to be little evidence of therapeutic communication with nursing staff once the episode of delirium had resolved. Although no one connected the experience with dementia, there did seen to be some evidence of mildly disturbed feelings, on reflecting back over the episode. As interviewees were generally willing to discuss their experiences with the researcher, it suggests that it would be helpful for nurses to provide opportunities to do so. Nevertheless, interviewees appeared to regard the episode simply as a transitory event in the overall context of illness, admission to hospital and their future welfare. The latter was of prime concern; yet again it appeared that they did not always receive the information they required to maintain control over their personal destines.