Delirium Awareness

World Delirium Awareness Day

March 16, 2022 is World Delirium Awareness Day (#WDAD2022).

World Delirium Awareness Day is March 16, 2022

Join North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services Program (NSM SGS) for World Delirium Awareness Day 2022 (#WDAD2022). Since 2020, NSM SGS has worked together as a region to raise awareness across sub-regions and sectors. 

Please see the messages below from NSM SGS Director, Sandra Easson-Bruno on getting involved.

  • Education / Information
    • Leave/share handouts around your organization for colleagues to see.  Attached you’ll find some options to share.  Some we’ve circulated previously and some are new/updated in 2022.  Have tried to keep these to 1-2 pages for ease of sharing.
    • Consider doing a presentation or having a huddle talk with a fun Q&A approach.  The ‘huddle talk’ is attached.  There is a powerpoint presentation in the resource handout (below) that you could use or modify.
    • Forward a pre-recorded presentation to your colleagues.  Here is the link to a presentation Debbie Lashbrook, one of our Psychogeriatric Resource Consultants, did for us in 2020.  It’s a focus on delirium in the context of Confinement Syndrome.  Others can be found in the ‘resource’ attachment.
    • Think about leaving a handout with a patient and/or their caregiver.  Check out the attached ‘resource’ handout for things you could share with pts/caregivers.
    • Share brief videos, including the story of Terry McLeod, CBC radio host, who speaks about his experience of delirium after heart surgery at St Boniface hospital in Manitoba (5min) or work from the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing that speaks to the experience of delirium and appropriate interventions based on qualitative research. (3min)
    • Encourage a few of your colleagues to attend (or schedule your team to attend) the Regional Geriatric Program of Eastern Ontario Grand Rounds on March 22 from 0800-0900 focused on the Delirium Quality Standards.  Click this link to register and learn more
    • Use the resources to create a game with colleagues/teams in your organization.  Bingo, jeopardy, quizzes.  People love games and prizes!
  • Tshirts – wear your delirium t-shirt within your organization and see who approaches you.  Anyone needing t-shirts please reach out as we’ll find a way to try to get one or more to you!



  • Social media – make some posts and comments on social media (ie Twitter, Facebook) with the hashtags #WDAD2022 and #NSMSGS.  If you are doing any activities with your team and/or organization, remember to post about them.  I’d like NSM to be a leader in using the #WDAD2020 hashtag on Twitter (but remember to use #NSMSGS so we can find the tweets!).  I’m going for provincial, national and global leader on this one.  😉

Delirium Resources

What is Delirium?

Delirium is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY that requires immediate attention. It is often a sign of serious disease in seniors and needs to be identified and managed quickly.

Delirium (or acute confusion) is a sudden change that causes confusion and uncharacteristic behaviours. Caregivers often describe a sudden change in thinking, memory or personality.

While there are several key signs/symptoms, screening focuses on four key areas:

  • Fluctuations in presentation and behaviours (confusion and behaviours fluctuate over the course of a day) o Inattention (difficulty focusing and concentrating)
  • Disorganized thinking (rambling, incoherent speech, unpredictable switching of subjects)
  • Altered level of consciousness (hyperactive, hypoactive)

Delirium is often not detected, or misdiagnosed as dementia or depression. Systematic screening and prompt assessment are important. Early diagnosis and treatment offer the best chance of recovery.

There are three types of delirium:

  1. hyperactive (restless, agitated)
  2. hypoactive (drowsy, lethargic)
  3. Mixed

The most frequently underdiagnosed is hypoactive delirium.

Delirium often has a multifactorial etiology with predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating factors.

Delirium can often be prevented. Awareness of its potentially modifiable risk factors is key to prevention.

Delirium can often be reversed with proper assessment and treatment by an interdisciplinary team.

  • Up to 75% of older adults experience delirium after acute illness or surgery.
  • It is very common in hospital settings
    • 1/3 medical and hip fracture patients
    • 1/2 ICU patients
  • 75% will recover from delirium in days/week
  • 25% will have persistent delirium that may last for months and, in some cases, never resolve

References: Regional Geriatric Program of Toronto: Senior Friendly Care (sfCare) Tools; Canadian Coalition for Seniors Mental Health: Delirium Tools Clinician Pocket Card

WDAD2022 – Key Messages – PDF

Pocket Guides for Clinicians

Printable Pocket Cards available for download below:

Delirium Pocketcard for Clinicians

sfCare Learning Series – PSW Pocket Guide



Differentiating Delirium from Dementia

Skip to content