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Delirium, not Dementia

Wiesemann, Ann

doi: 10.1097/01.NNN.0000343180.06817.57
Department: Letter

Earlier this year, while in the waiting room of a Michigan neurologist, I became aware of Neurology Now. My 78-year-old husband had had a recent bout with pneumonia and atrial fib with some residual short-term memory loss and confusion. The local neurologist in our small town in Illinois immediately diagnosed him with dementia. Our two daughters and I refused to accept this diagnosis; we ended up seeing two neurologists in Michigan and one wonderful internist. Thank goodness we did.

To our great relief, the internist and both neurologists diagnosed my husband not with dementia but with delirium. The Michigan doctors said the delirium could last for months, and it did—just about three months to be exact.

I feel there should be more public information regarding the causes and symptoms of delirium. There are, I'm sure, thousands of elderly who have had recent bouts of pneumonia or urinary tract infections who then suffer delirium, which is a temporary condition, but are diagnosed as having dementia.

Now, three months after its first manifestation, the delirium only appears momentarily and very infrequently. My husband is now doing all of our yard work, and keeps up with the activities he enjoyed prior to his illness.

—Ann Wiesemann

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