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Nursing older people: Dementia, delirium or depression?

CPD Hours



All Modules
Aged care
Mental health


Older people frequently suffer from cognitive impairments, and environmental changes such as admission to hospital can be challenging and distressing.

Cognitive deficits in older adults are commonly caused by dementia, delirium, or depression. These three illnesses often overlap or coincide and share many characteristics.

Healthcare practitioners may struggle to distinguish between them, and delays in diagnosing and treating these conditions accurately can have severe consequences for the patient.

This module discusses the similarities and differences in the clinical presentation of dementia, delirium and depression, aiming to assist all those providing nursing care to differentiate between and recognise the three conditions.

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Explain the diagnosis of dementia and identify its risk factors and most common types.
  • Recognise risk factors and symptoms of delirium in older people.
  • Implement strategies to prevent and manage delirium.
  • Recognise the risk factors and signs and symptoms of depression in older people.
  • Define and identify the differences between dementia, delirium and depression.
  • Identify the standard assessment tools that may be used to screen for the three conditions.

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