Background: Delirium is a multifactorial geriatric syndrome and often occurs in patients with cognitive impairment. It also remains under-recognized, specifically in elderly outpatients, because signs of delirium might overlap with symptoms of dementia. Objective: The aim of the present study is to retrospectively apply the chart-based delirium instrument on a cohort of elderly outpatients with dementia, to assess prevalence and features of delirium in this population. Methods:We randomly selected 650 medical records of outpatients referred to the Neurogenetic Regional Centre (CRN) of Lamezia Terme. Each evaluation included demographics, medical history, drugs, type and severity of dementia, and cognitive and functional status. Delirium was identified by the application of the chart-based delirium instrument. Results: The prevalence of delirium was 13.3%. The study population was divided, according to the presence of delirium, into two subgroups. Compared to the no delirium group, the delirium group was significantly older and had greater cognitive impairment with lower MMSE scores both at baseline and at the end of the follow up. They also had a significant lower score on the ADL and IADL. In this group, a higher intake of antihypertensive and antipsychotic drugs, together with a lower intake of cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, was observed. Conclusions: In this study, the chart-based delirium instrument was applied to an outpatient population affected by dementia and followed for a long time. Our data confirm the importance that age and frailty play on the genesis of delirium and suggest attention should be paid to the pharmacological treatment of these patients.
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