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:
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.
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.
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.”