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Confusion is a common symptom of an advanced illness. Here are some causes, signs and symptoms of confusion, and what caregivers can do to help.
Confusion is a state of not thinking clearly. A confused person is less aware of their surroundings and may be uncertain about the day and time, where they are and who is with them.
Confusion is common when a person has an advanced illness or is nearing the end of life. There are many causes of confusion. It is important to find out what is causing the confusion. Please tell your medical or hospice team what is happening so they can explore ways to treat it.
Use the arrows to scroll through a few ways family/caregivers can help a person who is confused:
Remove items or obstacles in the room that could cause injury. Do not try to restrain the person who is confused; that could injure them—or you.
Remind the confused person who you are when you assist with caregiving. Tell them what you are going to do. For example, “I am going to help you get out of bed now.”
Give the confused person time (around 20 seconds) to process what you are saying, and give them a chance to respond.
Keep to a routine and structure with the person's day to help them get their bearings about time and place.
Speak in short, simple phrases. Avoid asking a confused person a lot of questions.
Provide a quiet, peaceful setting away from loud noises. It may help to play the person's favorite music.
Keep a nightlight on so the person can orient themselves to their surroundings if they wake up.
If the person is starting a new medication, watch to see if their condition improves or worsens, of if there are side effects. Tell their doctor or hospice team what you observe.
For Agrace Hospice Care patients, talk to your nurse anytime you have questions or concerns about confusion. Contact Agrace right away if there is a sudden change in a hospice patient’s confusion.
If not enrolled in hospice care, please contact the person’s primary care provider (doctor, nurse practitioner, etc.) for advice.
If you need help urgently for an Agrace Hospice Care patient, please call. Otherwise, email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send your questions through our online contact form.
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