Delirium and Its Pharmacological Causes in Older People, Part 1

Sr Care Pharm. 2021 Oct 1;36(10):477-488. doi: 10.4140/TCP.n.2021.477.


Delirium is a syndrome that can arise from many causes or underlying conditions, and though it has been reported in younger patients, it is more prevalent in older people, though it can occur in other age groups as well. Identifying delirium is challenging in older people because of the coexistence of underlying dementia or depression, which may further complicate the presentation. Drug-induced delirium is one of the major causes of delirium, and evaluation of this potential cause or contribution is an important component of the evaluation process, since it can lead to poor patient outcomes. This article will review the epidemiology, pathophysiology, evaluation, diagnostic process, and causes of delirium in older people, with a focus on the pharmacological causes.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Delirium* / chemically induced
  • Delirium* / diagnosis
  • Delirium* / epidemiology
  • Humans