World Delirium Awareness Day 2021 ( #WDAD2021 ). There’s something here for everyone.

The big day is on 17 March 2021.

Not much is happening that day, unless you’re Irish: it is also St. Patrick’s Day.

Let us ‘mark’ this day.

Delirium changed my life (and, more importantly, it changed my mum’s forever.)

A few years ago, my mum started making strange noises at about 3 am in the morning, and her voice appeared to change. I had no idea what was happening.

This turned out to be ‘delirium’, and I took my mum to hospital as an emergency. It turned out she was dehydrated with a pneumonia. Delirium was the first indicator to me that something was wrong.  There then followed a few days of her oxygen levels falling, her dozing off mid-sentence, her bursting into tears at unpredictable times, and her changing from the sweetest person on the planet to an uncontrollable, aggressive werewolf.

My background was in medicine from Cambridge, and my Ph.D. was in the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia. Ironically,  both this form of dementia and delirium are striking because of the changes in behaviour and personality.

I found the change in my mum very distressing – partly because I didn’t understand it, and nobody could explain it.

I also found that delirium was poorly understood (and even worse, not identified or called as such) by colleagues in the NHS.

Now, I’ve come to recognise delirium as something I could wake up to in my mum – I can spot when ‘mum is not mum’. It’s important for clinicians to be able to recognise it using the 4AT or short CAM for example.

Put 17th March 2021 in your diary.

Join us on Twitter and mark it with your experiences using the hashtag #WDAD2021, for example?

If you’re a carer or healthcare professional, I’ve written a book in August 2020 on the basics of delirium. I was very fortunate to have contributions by world leaders in delirium in this introductory book.

If you’re a commissioner in England, you might like to think about the provision of services after a hospital episode of delirium. See my new paper from January 2021 with Kit Byatt in Age and Ageing newly published, which also discusses this in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

If you’re interested in some of the latest developments in the neuropsychiatry of delirium, please see this stimulating new paper from November 2020 in Lancet Psychiatry which I contributed to, by Mark Oldham and colleagues.

I feel it is vital to consider the views of carers in organising our ‘response’ to delirium, and obviously those who’ve experienced it. Please see this excellent new paper.

So don’t forget – the big day is on 17 March 2021.

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