Icon for Key Principle 2

PRINCIPLE 2: Delirium risk identification and prevention strategies

Older people will be assessed for delirium risk. Interventions will be put in place for prevention of identified risks. Identified risks will be communicated to the older person, their carer, family and staff involved in their care.

Delirium risk factors

Delirium is one of the most common, potentially preventable, adverse events for hospitalised older people.

A number of factors have been identified that can increase an individual’s risk of developing delirium. Early identification and modification of risk factors can prevent delirium or reduce its intensity.

Predisposing risk factors (1) Precipitating risk factors

Age >70

Pre-existing dementia

Severe medical Illness

History of previous delirium

Visual and hearing impairment


Abnormal sodium, potassium and glucose


Alcohol/ Benzodiazepine use

Use of physical restraint

Use of indwelling catheter

Adding three or more medications

Multiple bed moves



Anaesthesia and hypoxia

Malnutrition and dehydration



  1. Adapted from Innouye’s You Can Help Prevent Delirium poster