Considerations for Going to the Hospital with Someone with Dementia

Growing old includes visiting the hospital more often, but when dementia becomes part of the picture, the experience might get a little bit more difficult. Ironically, hospitals can be considered dangerous for people with dementia since they are not necessarily adapted to their particular needs, but it is a must for the family and caregivers to make this experience as least stressful as possible. This is what you need to consider:

 

Packing

Family members and caregivers have to be prepared for all circumstances. Make sure to pack important papers and documents such as the patient’s ID and health insurance cards, contact information, consent treatment wills, etc. Include lists of patient’s particular needs, medicines being taken, allergies, healthcare providers’ phone numbers, etc.

You can also pack snacks and bottles of water, cash, toiletries, extra clothing, objects to keep them distracted, etc.  Although many of these things could be found easily in hospitals, it is better to keep them on hand to make the visit more bearable, and so the patient never has to be left alone.

 

Emergency Room

The ER can be very scary for a person with dementia and can be very stressful for the person taking them there. One of the best things to do is to never go by yourself. Always ask someone else to accompany you. That way you could walk around the hospital and have the other person watching the patient.

The first thing to mention to the ER staff is that this a dementia patient. Be ready to explain how to approach them and what took you to the ER. Stay calm and be patient so you don’t become another stressful factor for the person with dementia.

 

Going to Hospital

Hospitalizations are common and might occur more than once with a person with dementia. It is good for them to have a private room so they can have their own space to feel calm, but it still is an unknown place without their familiar objects and commodities. Keep in mind that they are being exposed to an unfamiliar place, filled with people and strangers approaching to touch them with needles and other objects that could scare them.

It would be good to have a family member or someone they know and feel comfortable with to be with them at all times and to tell doctors and hospital staff how to talk to the patient or do it as little as possible. It would also be good to keep clothes and personal objects out of sight since they can remind them of their home and make them want to leave, which can cause distressed behavior.

 

Hospital staff

Although hospital staffs are used to working with people with different medical needs, it is better not to assume they are familiar with the specific ones for a person with dementia. It is likely that they know how to deal with people with dementia, but it is important that you provide specific details and information about the patient so they can address their requirements in the best way possible.

You can create an information sheet where you detail their routine, habits, signs of discomfort, if this person tends to wander too much, what upsets them, how to reduce and control distressed behavior without medications or control measures, and other details that might be helpful.

If you want to learn more about what to do when taking someone with dementia to the hospital, don’t forget to buy the book “10 Helpful hints for when a person with dementia has to go to the hospital.”

Understanding People with Dementia: The 3 Types of Delirium

Like any other disease, dementia can become very complicated at certain moments, and it is important that caregivers and family members have knowledge and are well informed about what these situations could be like and what can they carry. Delirium is one of the most common but most stressing events a person with dementia can face.

Delirium is a state of mind in which the person suffering it loses all notion of reality.  It is characterized by illusions, confused thinking, changes in their behavior, and difficulty speaking and recognizing the environment. Symptoms could begin within a few hours or could take a few days to appear. They could be intermittent and generally get worse during the nights since objects are less recognizable in the dark.

There are three types of delirium, and they are all characterized by changes in the patient’s ability to stay focused and aware. Still, each of them has its own characteristics:

 

Hyperactive delirium

Also known as “confusional state with agitation,” it is the easiest to recognize. Patients could act restlessly and become more anxious, their mood could change rapidly and could often hallucinate. This type of delirium is often confused with dementia. It is important to know that dementia develops slowly over time, and delirium happens abruptly and unexpectedly. If it occurs that delirium is mistaken for dementia, it means that the patient loses an opportunity to address the episode with therapy.

 

Hypoactive delirium

Hypoactive delirium, as opposed to hyperactive, is characterized by inactivity and drowsiness. Patients seem to be hypnotized or sedated, move slowly, and barely respond to social interactions. This type of delirium is often mistaken for depression and tends to be ignored because of its calmed characteristics. It is important not to let this delirium go unnoticed since it brings worse consequences and is more difficult to recognize than hyperactive delirium.

 

Mixed delirium

Mixed delirium includes the symptoms of both hyperactive and hypoactive delirium, which show up intermittently, which means that episodes can come and go, or increase and decrease in intensity and severity.

It is important that a medical evaluation is carried as soon as possible to reach an accurate diagnosis and know how to treat the patient. If you want to learn more about delirium, its causes, and consequences, ways to prevent it, or more details about delirium studies, don’t forget to buy our book “Delirium – 2nd edition.”

These are the 5 Rules Every Designer Must Know to Create Spaces for People with Dementia

People with dementia have very specific needs, and their environments have to be adapted to fulfill them. Whether designing homes or facilities, or even gardens and outdoor spaces for people with dementia, there are certain rules that every designer must follow. These are five that we consider are vital:

 

1. Create spaces for community integration

It is healthy for people with dementia to be integrated into their neighborhood and relate to people. Encourage socialization by designing spaces to invite people over to interact and share moments together.

 

2. Make patients feel at home

Keeping a decorative style which people with dementia are used to is going to help them feel and recognized themselves. Their room’s or home’s furniture and decoration must be comfortable for the patient.

 

3. Encourage brain activity

Colors and objects are beneficial to stimulate the brain of a person with dementia. It helps them as guidance to know where they are or where to go, and as a reference to identify what things are or what they mean. Stimulating their brain will help decrease dementia symptoms and slow down the degenerative process.

Also, environments have to be calmed and easy to digest to make them feel stable and relaxed.

 

4. Create wide open spaces

It is important, both for the patient and the caregiver, to be able to see each other from anywhere in the room.

In order to feel comfortable, patients have to be able to process the whole environment that surrounds them. Large rooms with big windows connected to open hallways are going to give them visual access to important objects and spaces.

And for caregivers, it is essential always to know where their patients are and to be positioned comfortably to keep an eye on them.

 

5. Create places for distraction

Whether indoor or outdoor, it is important that people with dementia have a safe and unique space to distract themselves. A place where they can do simple activities like playing table games, sewing or knitting, or anything that they enjoy doing, but that they can identify and relate this particular places to a certain activity.

There are many more rules that need to be considered and applied when designing any type of space for a person with dementia, and there are also many helpful tools and resources of which designers could benefit a lot when taking part in a project. If you want to learn more about these tools, don’t forget to buy the book “Dementia Design Audit Tool” by the Dementia Service Development Center.

7 of the Best Books for Dementia Design you Must Read

If you are interested in improving your knowledge about dementia design, these are the seven books that must be in your library:

 

Design features to assist patients with dementia in general hospitals and emergency departments

This book describes the design principles, key features, and particular challenges every designer, architect or anyone involved in dementia building design and construction must follow and overcome to ensure that hospitals and emergency departments are adapted to the needs of people with dementia.

It is part of a series of books published by the Dementia Services Development Centre.

 

Designing outdoor spaces for people with dementia

Supported by research, this book is meant to provide profound information about the design of outdoor spaces for people with dementia in different environments such as towns, cities, gardens, patios, and more.

It was edited by Pollock, A. and Marshall, M, and received 5 stars in a Nursing Times review.

 

Design for people with dementia: an overview of building design regulators – England edition

This book provides information about legislation, regulations, standards, inspection and enforcement powers of building design for people with dementia in England

 

Designing mental health units for older people: features to assist patients with dementia and delirium

This books details features of a dementia-friendly design as well as directions to how to create appropriate environments for the interventions that patients with dementia typically undergo. It also helps to understand the impairments and disabilities an elderly patient with dementia and delirium faces.

 

Designing balconies, roof terraces and roof gardens for people with dementia

This book is meant to advise how to create outside spaces that are not located on the ground or first floor of the building. It details practical ways to take advantage of these spaces and adapt them for people with dementia.

It is part of a series of books published by the Dementia Services Development Centre.

 

Designing interiors for people with dementia – 4th edition

This is an assisting tool for guiding designers and architects to create and accommodate spaces in order to take care efficiently of people with dementia in an appropriate environment, whether a care facility or at their own home. It details aspects of indoor architectural and design elements that have a significant impact on the patient.

 

10 Helpful hints for dementia design at home

This is an easy-to-read book that provides guidance and design solutions to bring commodities and adapt the environment to the needs of a person with dementia, to let them have a little independence in their own home. It is destined for carers and family members that worry about having the right tools for taking care of their patients.

It received 4/5 in a Nursing Standard review.

Consider This When Designing Homes for People with Dementia

One of the most important things to do when someone is diagnosed with dementia is to adapt their environment to their new needs. We may think that a better choice would be to transfer them to a special facility where they could be taken care for, but what we sometimes forget is that they would feel more comfortable in their own home. The solution is, then, to make the appropriate arrangements in their house

 

Start with the minimum

When a person is diagnosed with dementia, it is better not the remodel their home altogether, but instead, make the right arrangements to keep them safe and secure. Their home has to remain essentially the same, but include few changes that go unnoticed and do a lot.

 

Design with endurance and to last long

People with dementia can become emotionally unstable and sometimes react in unexpected ways that could harm them and damage objects around them. It is important that these objects are soft enough not to hurt anyone but also durable enough to be hard to break. Protective surfaces and impact resistant walls are features that could be included in any home.

 

Kitchens have to be safe and fun

The kitchen is one of the most important spaces of a house. The phrase “the kitchen is the heart of every home” is commonly heard in any country, and it speaks the truth. The kitchen is a space that allows people to share special moments while cooking, which can be a therapeutic activity. It can be a place for therapy and for creating homelike atmospheres that bring positive impacts on a patient’s brain.

A well-adapted kitchen for people with dementia has to be open to moving around comfortably. It has to have many places to sit comfortably, tools that should not be touched must be placed out of reach, and home appliances have to be easy to use.

 

Bathrooms have to provide independence

Bathrooms have to provide support and let them feel more independent. Since these are very private places, it might be possible that they don’t feel comfortable with someone assisting, so it would be better to accommodate the bathroom in a way that they could clean up on their own.

Showers cubicles have to be easy to get in and always have grab rails. They could also include additional lighting. The bathroom can feature a mirror, but it is important to consider a way of covering it or hiding to avoid a person with dementia who no longer recognizes their reflection to be confused and distressed.

 

Include assistive technology

Assistive technology is always helpful in any home. Wheelchairs and scooters can help taking a person from one place to another without much effort. Sensors and alarms can help to keep track of water, gas, lighting, and temperature of the house. Or even smaller things such as medication dispensers with alarms can help a person remember when to take medicine.

If you want to learn more and find amazing tips about home designing for people with dementia, don’t forget to buy the book “10 Helpful hints for dementia design at home” by the Dementia Services Development Centre.