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ICU Delirium Outcomes

Coping at home after ICU delirium

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​How are problems​ related to ICU delirium managed?

There is a connection between ICU delirium and long-lasting memory and thinking problems, muscle weakness, and anxiety. Some hospitals may offer ICU follow-up care and rehabilitation for problems related to ICU and delirium. It is very important to speak to your care provider to rule out a medical cause for these problems.

Managing problems related to ICU delirium is different for everyone. It may involve exercises to improve thinking and memory, therapy to improve sleep, or intense therapy that is more like rehabilitation for a brain injury. Using rehabilitation and other ways to manage ICU delirium is very new, and we are still learning how to best treat it.

It may take weeks or months to fully recover from both the physical and mental problems related to ICU delirium. For some, these problems can last the rest of their lives. This can lead to needing full-time care from a family member, having to live in a care facility, or even dying sooner.

What can I do to stay healthy and help my recovery?

Here are some tips to help with your recovery:

  • Talk to a loved one or friend about how you feel if you are finding it hard to get back to ‘normal’.
  • Book an appointment to see your healthcare provider to rule out a medical cause for problems that can happen after staying in the ICU.
  • Talk to your family doctor and other healthcare providers about your hospital stay.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare team questions and talk about what you or a loved one are feeling. You know your body or your loved one best.
  • Let your healthcare team know if you have problems related ICU delirium. Your healthcare provider can talk to you about these problems and may be able to suggest health service​s in your community.
  • Contact the ICU to arrange a visit.
    • Some people remember things that may not have actually happened, like a dream. Others don’t remember anything.
    • We know from patient experiences that going back to the ICU may help you better understand what happened during your ICU stay.
  • Learn more about ICU delirium and ICU recovery.
    • Look for helpful resources online​.
    • Visit your local public library to get help finding more information if you don’t have access to the internet.
    • Find a peer support group, such as ICUsteps​, to talk to others who have had ICU delirium.
    • Be active. Some patients say that being physically active after they leave the hospital can help them recover by getting more muscle strength and sleeping better.

For More Inform​ation

  • Health Link – Health Advice 24/7: 811

Current as of: March 25, 2021

Author: Critical Care SCN, Alberta Health Services