Family caregiver's experience of caring for an older adult with delirium: A systematic review

Priyanka Shrestha, Donna M. Fick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Aim: To enhance understanding of how family caregivers perceive the experience of caring for an older adult with delirium across care settings and to identify the challenges in recognising and managing delirium to inform future research and best practices. Method: A systematic literature review was conducted in five databases per the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses criteria. Primary or secondary peer-reviewed articles published between 1987 and October 2018 describing the experiences of family caregivers caring for older adults with delirium or delirium superimposed on dementia were included in the review. Mixed Method Appraisal Tool (MMAT) was used to evaluate the methodological quality. A thematic synthesis of results was conducted to extract relevant data as per the aims of the study. Results: Eighteen articles met the eligibility criteria, which were reviewed and analysed in regard to purpose, sample, research design, variables and results. Seven themes emerged in the process. The current challenges and gaps in our knowledge of this phenomenon have also been highlighted, which should be helpful to inform best practices, and finally, an agenda for future research is proposed. Conclusion: Family caregivers are an important partner in the detection and management of delirium. The impact of caring for an older adult with delirium on the family caregivers should not be overlooked. This paper highlights the dearth of research on family caregiver's experience of caring for older adults with delirium and even less in the context of delirium superimposed on dementia. More research is required to further understand the family caregiver's experience and their challenges in order to support them in their caregiving role and to determine their needs and preferences of being involved in the plan of care. Implications for practice: These findings suggest that family caregivers are a valuable resource in the recognition and management of delirium and should be included as care partners in the health care team, while also catering to their health and well-being in the process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12321
JournalInternational Journal of Older People Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gerontology


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