Can delirium be prevented?

Before you or a loved one has surgery, talk to your healthcare provider about assessing your mental status before the procedure. This way, your provider can establish a baseline. If your mental status changes after surgery, providers have presurgical measurements for comparison. And if you or your loved one has risk factors that increase your chances of developing delirium, talk to your provider.

These other tips can help prevent delirium:

  • Keep a clock and calendar nearby.
  • Have plenty of lighting during the day.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about limiting medicines that aren’t needed, especially those that may cause delirium.
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids.
  • Take a walk every day, or at least get out of bed and sit in a chair.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any signs of an infection, such as cough, fever, pain or shortness of breath.
  • Keep your family involved in the treatment plan.

What conditions put me at risk for delirium?

These conditions or situations raise the risk of developing delirium:

  • Cancer.
  • HIV.
  • Having surgery.
  • Being hospitalized, especially in the ICU.
  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Dementia.
  • Chronic liver disease.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/16/2020.


  • Delirium. Accessed 9/18/2020.
  • Merck Manual. Delirium. Accessed 9/18/2020.
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. Delirium. Accessed 9/18/2020.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy