What is confusion?
Are you having difficulty with tasks that were previously easy but are now difficult to do and even understand? Does it seem like remembering basic information, like what day it is or how to tell time, has become more challenging? Is it hard to recall where your family members are when you’re not with them, even though you could easily keep track of them in the past? If situations like these seem familiar, you might be having periods of confusion.
Confusion is a mental state in which you may feel less alert, or get flustered and jumbled easily. Some Veterans experience confusion as a result of getting older, from having sleep problems, or as part of health conditions like dementia or traumatic brain injury. A minor sign of confusion, like forgetting the date but remembering it later, is not a major cause for concern. However, ongoing episodes of confusion, like feeling disoriented for a period of time or forgetting where you are going when driving your car, may signal a problem.
“I couldn’t remember certain things and I got all stressed. It became a vicious cycle because my stress would just make me more frustrated and more tense.”
Confusion and forgetfulness can affect your work, your daily life, and your relationships with family members, close friends, and co-workers. Some Veterans who experience confusion may find they have trouble solving simple problems, remembering details, or organizing their thoughts. Others may become paranoid and believe that people are out to get them because they don’t remember who they are or how they know each other.
If I’m experiencing confusion, what can I do about it right away?
- Try to slow down and focus on the task at hand.
- Do everyday tasks in the same order each time.
- Keep a calendar or schedule, and make lists.
- Use memory tricks like repeating people’s names or retracing your steps.
- Find ways to reduce your stress such as by taking slow, deep breaths.
- Put things like your keys and glasses in the same place after using them.
- Take regular breaks to prevent feeling tired and overwhelmed.
- Avoid drinking alcohol, which can make confusion worse.
Openly discuss your confusion with family and close friends. When you’re ready to talk about what you’re experiencing, turn to them, so they may provide you with support and help you manage your confusion. It’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist to thoroughly review your medications and make sure that they are not contributing to the problem.
Take the next step to connect with care.
Every day, Veterans from all military service branches and eras connect with proven resources and effective treatments for symptoms like confusion. Here’s how to take the next step: the one that’s right for you.
Read VA's latest coronavirus information. If you have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, please call before you visit your local medical center or clinic. If you have an appointment, consider making it a telehealth appointment.
New to VA? Apply for health care benefits.
- Getting started is simple. Create a free account online to help ease your enrollment process. To prepare to apply for VA health care in person, by telephone, or by mail, explore VA’s “How to Apply” page.
- Not sure whether you are eligible for VA health care benefits? Read about eligibility for VA health care.
- Unsure of what kind of help you need? Call 1-877-222-VETS (1-877-222-8387) to find the right resources to meet your needs, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. If you have hearing loss, call TTY: 1-800-877-8339.
- Veterans’ family members and caregivers can see whether they qualify for VA medical benefits as a spouse, surviving spouse, dependent child, or caregiver. Explore family and caregiver health benefits.
Already enrolled in VA and interested in mental health support? Schedule a mental health appointment.
- If you’re already enrolled and using VA health care, the fastest way to schedule VA appointments is to call the VA facility where you want to receive care.
- With VA Appointments tools, you can schedule some VA health care appointments online, view details about upcoming appointments, and organize your health care calendar.
- If you’re not using VA medical services, contact your nearest VA medical center or Vet Center to talk about your needs.
What about other options at VA? VA offers a variety of tools and resources.
- The Veteran Training online self-help portal for overcoming everyday challenges includes modules on managing anger, developing parenting and problem-solving skills, and more.
- Mental health apps for Veterans cover a variety of topics, ranging from PTSD to anger management to quitting smoking.
- VA TeleMental Health connects you with a VA mental health provider through a computer or mobile device in your home or at your nearest VA health facility. You can learn more about this option from your local VA medical center.
- Vet Centers provide support, counseling, and readjustment services for Veterans and active duty service members (including members of the National Guard and Reserve) who have served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility or have experienced a military sexual trauma. Find a Vet Center near you or call 1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk with a fellow combat Veteran about your experiences, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
What about support beyond VA?
There’s a whole community of support ready to help with whatever you’re going through. Use this tool to find resources near you.