Going to the hospital can be frightening for anyone. For dementia patients, it may be even more so.
People with dementia often feel confused and uncertain of their surroundings, even when they are familiar. Being placed in an unfamiliar hospital situation where they do not understand what is going on around them can be especially scary. However, family caregivers can help make hospital stays easier for dementia patients and hospital staff members by following a few tips, such as those below.
Keep an Emergency Bag Handy
Because hospital stays can be frequent and unexpected for older adults with dementia, it can be helpful to keep an emergency bag ready to go. Keep copies of the senior’s Medicare and insurance cards, a list of their medical conditions and medications, and other important information in it. Also, pack comfort items to help soothe the older adult, such as a snack or activity. Include a change of clothing for the senior as well.
Inform Staff that the Senior Has Dementia
Be sure to tell hospital staff members who come in contact with your aging relative that they have dementia. Explain the symptoms that might cause problems and share relevant likes and dislikes. If you have to wait, request that you be allowed to move to a quieter area where your family member might be more comfortable.
Bring a Friend or Family Member
You’re going to have to complete paperwork and answer questions for your aging relative, so it can be helpful to have someone to sit with the senior while you do. That person can comfort the older adult and keep them from feeling afraid when you cannot be with them.
Talk About the Hospital Ahead of Time
If the hospital stay is planned, talk to the older adult about it in the days leading up to the hospitalization. Tell them what to expect. Reassure them that the hospital is a safe place to be and that you will be there to help them.
Arrange for Someone to Be There at All Times
Avoid leaving your aging relative alone at the hospital. Being surrounded by unfamiliar people is likely to be frightening. Set up a schedule so that someone the senior knows is with them throughout their stay.
Arrange for Home Care After Hospitalization
Transitioning back to home can be challenging for older adults, especially those with dementia. A home care provider can ensure your loved one is comfortable and safe while they continue to recover. Home care providers can remind the senior to take their medications, prepare meals for them, and help them to get up and move around as needed.