• community dwelling older adults;
  • delirium;
  • family caregiver distress

bull m.j. (2010) Delirium in older adults attending adult day care and family caregiver distress. International Journal of Older People Nursing6, 85–92 doi: 10.1111/j.1748-3743.2010.00260.x

Background.  Delirium is a critical, costly, frequently reversible problem in older adults. Findings of previous studies indicate that delirium occurs in up to 65% of hospitalised older adults and up to 80% of terminally ill patients. Few studies address the frequency of delirium in community dwelling older adults and the extent to which delirium symptoms create distress for their family caregivers.

Aims.  To determine the frequency of delirium in older people attending two adult day centers (ADC) in the United States and identify the extent to which delirium symptoms were associated with family caregivers’ mental health symptoms, and ways of coping with the older adults’ care.

Method.  A descriptive, cross-sectional design was used. Thirty older adults and their family caregivers were randomly selected from the rosters of the ADC.

Results.  Only 6.7% of the older adults had a positive screen for delirium. The majority of family caregivers (96.6%) stated that they had no knowledge of delirium prior to participating in this study.

Implications for practice.  Both older adults and their family caregivers need education about delirium symptoms and risks.