Delirium, a state of confusion very common in hospitals, is distressing for patients and family members, but is often perceived as actually being pretty benign by medical practitioners. Delirium usually resolves when a patient's underlying medical problems improve. However, the view that delirium isn't actually so bad is beginning to change.
Alzheimer's disease patients who are hospitalized have an increased risk for further cognitive decline and death. If the patient develops delirium, the risks are even higher--over five times the risks of Alzheimer's patients who weren't hospitalized. These findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and agree with previous research suggesting that hospital stays and delirium in particular may worsen overall outcomes in elderly patients with Alzheimer's disease.
While the ultimate method of treating delirium is to treat the usually multiple underlying causes, there are ways to reduce the symptoms. Friends and family members can be very helpful. To learn more, read here: Relieving the Symptoms of Delirium.