Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

Screening for Delirium, Dementia and Depression in the Older Adult

Project / Initiative: 
Long-Term Care Best Practices Program
Type of Guideline: 
Publish Date: 
About this Guideline:

This guideline has been developed to improve the screening assessment of older adult clients for delirium, dementia and depression. This guideline does not include recommendations for the management of these conditions in day-to-day nursing practice.

Although this guideline is written to guide nursing practice, geriatric mental healthcare is an interdisciplinary endeavour. Many settings have formalized interdisciplinary teams and the panel strongly supports this structure. Collaborative assessment and treatment planning with the client and family are essential.

It is acknowledged that the screening for delirium, dementia and depression needs to be studied in a more clearly defined way, and that there are gaps in the research evidence. However, this guideline will enable nurses to apply the best available evidence to clinical practice, and to promote the most appropriate use of healthcare resources.

All nurses are in a position to flag changes in a client’s mental health status and direct the client to appropriate care. It is expected that individual nurses will perform only those aspects of geriatric mental health assessment and intervention/management within their scope of practice. Both RNs and RPNs should seek consultation in instances where the client’s care needs surpass the individual nurse’s ability to act independently.
Supplement: 2010

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