Delirium after admission to hospital

I am wanting to make sense of a horric experience after I was admitted to an elderly people’s unit in a local community hospital after a minor fall. Initially, I was admitted so that physiotherapists could observe and find ways to improve my walking. But shortly after admission I became delirious and drifted in and out of consciousness for several weeks. I was aware that I became aggressive, physically and verbally abusive - behaviour which shocked and bewildered medical staff, Carers, other patients and, especially my family who were not only extremely worried, but ashamed. But although my behaviour seemed irrational to others who could have no means of knowing my inner experience, my behavior was founded on a fear and terror so intense that I reverted to basic instinct. I was caught like a rat in a trap, prepared to act in any way possible to survive. Later, a professional said I had probably suffered a post—traumatic experience, related to drugs. In my case, my parkinson’s Drug routine, already unstable, was further disrupted through hospital admittance triggering onset of delirium.

I have a need for more understanding and intend to do some research. A good starting point would be to ask if others have had similar experiences and if they have had the opportunity to understand what was happening. Have they ever discussed their experience with a health professional?


This is exactly what my Father is going through right now. He fell at my house on Sunday and fractured his arm. He went into hospital and is now there in a totally delirious state and unable to use his legs. Before he went to hospital he was his normal self (confused at moments and a bit wobbly but ok). It is awful to see and he does not seem to even recognise us much, he is very scared and cries out a lot.

The hospital seem to just think its his dementia but we know that he was in no way like this before his fall. I am not sure what to do to help him as he is in a terrible way and quite frankly the hospital are just waiting it out until he is well enough to move to rehab.

Any advice would be wonderful.

tght althouBefore I begin,please understand I write entirely from my own experience,a reading of my medical notes and brief glimpses into what experts are saying about onet of delirium re Parkinson’s patients. I have no medical knowledge and much of what I say is mere opinion.

I guess that your your father’s delirium is more related to a disruption in his drug routine than a result of having dementia and that although his bodily needs are being met as far as possible, the turmoil within his mind, is ignored, because the hospital staff have no resources to draw on.

Your father is terribly bewildered and frightened. He is in unfamiliar surroundings, attended by people he does not know, handled in ways he does not understand, separated from those he loves. He can be jikened to a frightened animal. He is crying for help. How deep his agony is or the depth of his suffering we cannot know - but we’can be certain that what he needs most is assurance of your love and your understanding. It s essential that you remain calm and in control and that you keep a careful watch on the way he is being handled and treated during his stay.

‘The best place for him is to be at home and , if all possible, this is what you should be aiming at. There are avenues to explore and ways of going about this which I cannot advise you of in this posting. I hope this is of some help to you.


My husband has had Parkinson’s for 17 years with very little disability.
He has BP problems and fell in November…in hospital for 3 weeks.
Fell again on Xmas Day…in hospital with smashed knee for 4 weeks, now in rehab.
He has off/on Delirium with spells of paranoia, agitation,hallucinations, attacks of unresponsiveness.
He is very ill.
We have been told that elderly people often get resolving Delirium and sometimes it gets better, sometimes not.
It has been and is a horrific time.
We knew nothing of this likelihood and are finding it very frightening…as is my husband.
No one at the hospital told us about this…the rehab staff recognised it straight away…and diagnosed a urine infection for which he is receiving antibiotics…often a trigger factor for Delirium.
Forewarned is forearmed…I wish I had been warned and I would have not have been so shocked.

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Thanks to the posting of Golden Girl, I have learned much more about delirium In my reading today, further to the guidelines set out by NICE. But,most importantly for those who are in desperate need at this very moment read ‘Hospital Delirium: what to Know and Do’. Written by Leslie Kenisan. You will find it on the website Better Health While

The article is ver reassuring and gives some very practical and helpful advice. Instead of spending time in unproductive worrying, it gives family and Carers a plan of action,which is the first step in realising you can have some control and influence in helping your friend/relative’s recovery.


Sorry ignore the previous link. This is the helpful link I meant to give,

So good to hear form someone who has “been there” - a bit like reading “Still Alice” re Harvard professior’s (fictionalised) experience of onset of Alzheimer’s. I could only watch form the outside as my husband experience the agitation, paranoia, hallucinations etc - all so very real for him and like pot dramatic shock afterwards even when he knew that all those thoughts and beliefs had been in him mind alone.
Hospital staff were patient and long suffering but it was a bit like "seen it all before…including the relative who claims that the person is not “really” like this.
It has been better since he got home and in totally familiar surroundings but short term memory is very very short - don’t know if that is a drug related thing, a “mild” dementia thing or what.
I ill try asking him what he remembers about it all and post again maybe.


Pippa (“the wife” - so called…)

Yes- I can identify with all of the above posts. Hospital delirium is a very real and shocking thing. My mum who is 78 and has had Parkinsons for 15 years has experienced it many times during hospital visits.

It is painful and horrific to see as a family member and each time, I have failed to see how my mum could possibly get better. The hospital staff had no benchmark for my mum so they had no idea how her personality/ state of health and mental wellbeing had been just a few days previously. Each time, once mum has returned to her own home, the horrific episode passes.

For each hospital visit, we spend time worrying that mum’s medication is being messed up by the nurses, that she is not getting her medication on time, that she must have a water infection, that she actually just seems ‘drugged’ up or sedated…and then once she returns home, it seems like it was ‘hospital delirium’ after all. It’s a very frightening thing for all involved, not least my poor mum and anyone else who actually experiences it.