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Your Guide After a Hip Fracture (Breaking a Hip)

Delirium and confusion – Information for family and friends

Some people, especially older adults, become confused or delirious after breaking their hip. This can be upsetting when this isn’t normal behavior for your loved one. Delirium can be caused by surgery, pain, a new surrounding, medicine, and changes in health.

When someone has delirium, they may:

  • not make sense when they speak
  • not pay attention to others or know who they are
  • not know what everyday objects are
  • be restless, fidgety (can’t sit still), or sleepy
  • think someone’s trying to hurt them
  • try to get out of bed
  • talk less or want to spend more time alone (become withdrawn)
  • yell, scream, or try to hurt others
  • imagine things, people, or events that never happened
  • not be able to control their bladder or bowels
  • forget what they’ve been told
  • try to pull out tubes or intravenous (IV) lines
  • forget they’re in the hospital or think they’re somewhere else

It can take a few days to find out what may be causing delirium or confusion. Once the cause is known, treatment is started. It can take days, weeks, or sometimes months before someone recovers from delirium.

Your loved one’s healthcare team may use safety precautions, like bed alarms, to help keep them safe. Please talk to the healthcare team if you have questions about safety precautions.

Below are some tips to help family and friends during this time:

  • Let the healthcare team know if there are changes in your loved one’s behaviour.
  • Sit with your loved one. Being with someone they know can often make them feel more relaxed.
  • Make sure they have any aids they normally use or wear, like glasses or hearing aids.
  • Explain what’s going on with clear and simple words.
  • Remind them gently where they are what the date is.
  • Talk about general things. Don’t expect they will understand or remember anything.
  • Help with meals.
  • Don’t ask questions if you know they don’t know the answer.
  • Don’t argue with them.
  • Don’t take what they say seriously or personally. Delirium often makes people say or do things that aren’t usual for them.
  • Bring in pictures, blankets, or other personal items that they know. Don’t bring things of value to the hospital.

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