Signs & symptoms of confusion in the elderly

Updated November 21, 2016

Elderly individuals may suffer from short-term or long-term confusion. Confusion in the elderly comes from a variety of issues, including Alzheimer's disease, dementia, injuries and medications. If your loved one has been acting differently lately, it is important to be on the lookout for classic symptoms and signs of confusion. Make a doctor's appointment to help your family member get a firm diagnosis.

Forgetting Plans

One sign of confusion in the elderly is forgetting about plans. If your elderly friend or family member is skipping doctor's appointments, forgetting to call you back and missing family dinners on a regular basis, it may be a sign of a much larger problem. People naturally become more forgetful with age. A healthy individual may be able to correct forgetfulness by making lists and utilising calendars. If those methods do not help your loved one's memory to improve, she needs to be checked by a doctor for possible Alzheimer's disease and other health problems.

Slower Reactions

Slow reactions are another sign that your elderly loved one is confused. Individuals who are confused may start speaking slower or taking longer to make decisions. Slow reaction times are dangerous when it comes to your family member driving or going out of the house alone. If you see your family member's slow reaction time impacting his quality of life, it is time to consider getting him some extra help around the house or taking him to see a doctor for tests.

Unable to Focus

Confusion makes it hard for an elderly person to focus. It is possible for an elderly person to begin making dinner, become disoriented when the phone rings and forget to go back to the stove. These kinds of confusion-related mistakes lead to fires and other dangers in the home. Another sign that your loved one is unable to focus is if she is telling a story about one thing and then suddenly begins speaking about something else completely unrelated.

Physical Symptoms

If your loved one is acting more confused than usual, check for accompanying physical symptoms. Some confused elderly adults may experience double vision, shaking, headaches and exhaustion that make it too difficult to think clearly. These are classic signs of low blood sugar. If your family member is diabetic, call his doctor immediately. Brain tumours also cause similar symptoms. Patients with brain tumours have a better chance of recovering when the tumour is caught early.

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About the Author

Valerie Tandoi began writing professionally in 2004. She has been published in various print and online media outlets including: "New Jersey Business Magazine," "South Jersey Mom Magazine," "ASA-Dix Newspaper," "Happy Woman Magazine" and others. She also creates print and Web content for businesses. Tandoi holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Caldwell College and currently lives in New Jersey.