Identifying the Differences in Dementia, Depression, and Delirium

Dementia, delirium, and depression are common conditions that many seniors faced, marked by similar symptoms. Though it’s true, some symptoms overlap, there are major differences between the three, particularly in the method of care. Many family caregivers of seniors are unaware of the differences between depression vs. dementia or delirium vs. dementia. To continue providing the best care possible, it is important to understand the unique causes, symptoms, and care techniques of each. At Poet’s Walk memory care facilities, out caregivers have been treating seniors with these common conditions for years and we are pleased to serve as a resource for seniors and their loved ones.

Is it Dementia, Depression, or Delirium? Understanding the Differences

Condition Causes Symptoms Methods of Care
Dementia Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other diseases cause damage to the nerve cells in certain areas of the brain. A significant mental decline will occur. Problems with memory, decision making, logical reasoning, paying attention, and processing information will become increasingly difficult. May experience confusion about people, places, or time, and find it harder to communicate.
Personality and behaviors may appear to change over time.
Eating a healthy diet – especially with more vitamin D – and regular physical activity. Therapies that incorporate memory care and cognition exercises may help a lot, as well as socialization.
Depression Whether a result of genetics, hormonal level changes, a medical condition, or stress/grief, depression is caused by chemical changes in the brain. Loved one may seem more moody, sad, irritable, or angry, and have emotional outbursts. They sometimes feel guilt and hopelessness, seemingly for no reason. They may lose interest in hobbies and people that used to make them happy. They could have a hard time concentrating and making decisions. They may feel fatigued, insecure, and have memory problems. They may also have thoughts of self-harm and in several cases, delusions or hallucinations. Changes to their lifestyle – such as a healthier diet and regular exercise – can help symptoms. A doctor could prescribe medication. Many also benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy or psychotherapy.
Delirium Delirium can be a result of acute illness – of the body or the brain, an acute injury, or severe intoxication – especially from drugs. What is a state of delirium?
You will see changes in your loved one’s personality, behavior, temperament, concentration, or how conscious they are. The key is, these changes are sudden.Can depression cause delirium?Depression doesn’t directly cause delirium, but if your loved one has caused themselves acute harm or has ingested intoxicants because they are depressed, this may bring on a state of delirium.
Make sure your loved one follows a healthy diet and remains well hydrated. Keep up with the treatment of pain, infection, or constipation. Constantly orient them and keep them away from delirogenic drugs. Ensure they have proper sleep. They can also benefit from memory care and cognition-focused therapies.

Providing Support for Elderly with Dementia, Depression, and/or Delirium

It can certainly feel overwhelming to see a loved one suffer from dementia, depression, delirium, or a combination of these. Fortunately, you are never alone! Poet’s Walk offers memory care programs, tailored meal plans, and therapeutic recreational activities that are all designed to provide customized senior care for your loved one. Our caregivers are dedicated, qualified, and very capable. They will ensure that your loved one’s nutritional and healing needs are met. Through customized exercise plans, memory care, sensory stimulation, and socialization activities, Poet’s Walk will look after all the aspects of your loved one’s health – not just the physical.

Interested in learning more about how Poet’s Walk can assist in the care of your loved one? Contact us to discover our senior programs and activities and plan a visit to your nearest memory care assisted living facility for a tour of our grounds.