Identification and rates of delirium in elderly medical inpatients from diverse language groups

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A linguistically diverse cohort of 126 medical inpatients 65 y and over was recruited to determine rates of delirium after admission, associated outcomes, and staff detection of delirium. A clinical interview and cognitive and functional questionnaires were completed with the patient and their carer, and files were reviewed. The incidence of delirium at comprehensive assessment early after admission was 10.3% and the overall incidence 19.1% over the whole admission. Cognitive impairment was common (n = 80, 63.5%), including 61 patients (48.4%) who had dementia. Most patients (83%) with delirium had dementia. Staff recognized less than 21% of patients with delirium, 33% of patients with dementia, and 36% of cognitively impaired patients. There was no difference in outcomes between English and non-English speaking patients. Given the high prevalence and poor recognition of cognitive disorders in older people, routine cognitive screening should occur. Staff education should focus upon improving delirium detection and addressing the needs of cognitively impaired older inpatients.

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