featured10 - Considerations for Going to the Hospital with Someone with Dementia

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

51 - Considerations for Going to the Hospital with Someone with Dementia

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

52 - Considerations for Going to the Hospital with Someone with Dementia

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

53 - Considerations for Going to the Hospital with Someone with Dementia

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

54 - Considerations for Going to the Hospital with Someone with Dementia

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.”

featured8 - Understanding People with Dementia: The 3 Types of Delirium

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

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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

42 - Understanding People with Dementia: The 3 Types of 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

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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.”

featured5 - Understanding People with Dementia: How to Respond to Distressed Behavior

Understanding People with Dementia: How to Respond to Distressed Behavior

Confusion can lead anyone to act irrationally, and this occurs commonly in people with dementia. Distressed behavior is a typical characteristic of the condition and it is essential to know how to identify its causes and how to respond to it. Screaming, rudeness or any exalted attitude is a sign of distressed behavior, and they can be caused by frustrating situations, a scare, a problem of communication, depression and many other different causes. Whenever a person with dementia is acting this way, this is how you should respond:

 

Avoid arguing

Remember that people with dementia can no longer think logically nor rationally, so arguing with them can worsen the situation.  It is better to leave the room to relax and then come back.

 

Don’t take it personally

Again, people with dementia don’t think rationally. They might say things that seem personal or intentional, but the truth is that they are not thinking what they are saying nor notice if they are being rude or hurtful.

 

Encourage communication

The reason why this person is distressed might be that there is something they want to communicate but can’t find the way to do so. Maybe they are in pain or want to ask for something in particular, and they will try to express it through their behavior.

 

Have respect and empathy

Understanding is the only tool that is going to help anyone deal with a person with dementia. Understanding their emotions are going to help feel empathy towards them and respect them. It is important always to treat them right and the way they deserve, with support and love.

 

Consider drug treatments

Sometimes, levels of aggressiveness can reach high, and they can become dangerous for themselves and anyone around them. If nothing helps to calm down a person with dementia, then it is good to consider using medications, always prescribed by a doctor.

If you want to learn more about how to respond to distressed behavior in people with dementia, don’t forget to buy the book “Supporting people with dementia: understanding and responding to distressed behaviour.”

info2 - Understanding People with Dementia: How to Respond to Distressed Behavior

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featured3 - Understanding People with Dementia: 5 Tips for Caregivers

Understanding People with Dementia: 5 Tips for Caregivers

Dealing with dementia is hard either for the person suffering it and everyone who surrounds them. It is important that caregivers and family members learn to deal with specific situations typical of the disease. Understanding this fact is key to making the caring process more bearable. Here are five tips for anyone that carries this task.

 

1. Accept their reality and go along with it

The main thing to understand is that people with dementia have a brain disorder which they cannot control or change, so the only solution is to go along with it. As we cannot change their inside world, the only thing left is to adapt the external world to their needs and their reality. Someone with dementia might think they have to do something they don’t have to like maybe they have an appointment with a doctor. It is better to ask them about the appointment, who the doctor is, and let the conversation flow.

 

2. Arguing doesn’t help

The person might begin saying things that are not true and making up stories. This can be very frustrating and our natural instinct is to correct them or argue with them, but it is simply impossible to convince someone with dementia that they are wrong, and arguing can lead to more stressful situations. People with dementia can no longer think logically, so it’s better to remain calmed and, as we mentioned before, go along with it.

 

3. Be affectionate

Dementia can make someone feel confused and anxious. It is very easy for them not to know the difference between what is real and what is in their head. When this happens, it is important to evaluate what feelings they are demonstrating and respond with affection and support.

 

4. Do some brain exercises

Though it does not cure dementia, doing brain exercises can slow down the deterioration of the brain and reduce its symptoms. With this kind of diseases, brain health becomes a top priority. Also, physical exercises and engaging in stimulating activities can also be beneficial.

 

5. Study their behavior

Every action is triggered by something and has a purpose. This means that their behavior happens for a reason and is trying to fulfill a need. Changes in their conduct can be caused by changes in their environment or something someone did or said, and then, their following actions would be directed towards responding to a particular need. It is important to observe what caused that behavior and what need they are trying to meet, so we can adapt their environment and make them feel comfortable.

If you want to learn more about taking care of people with dementia, don’t forget to buy the book “10 Helpful Hints for Carers: practical solutions for carers living with people with dementia,” edited by Professor June Andrews and Professor Allan House.

info1 - Understanding People with Dementia: 5 Tips for Caregivers

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featured2 - Consider these Facts about Heating and Lighting and How They Affect People with Dementia

Consider these Facts about Heating and Lighting and How They Affect People with Dementia

Heat and light can be key factors that affect the health of someone suffering dementia. As we are dealing with elders, they are more prone to develop sight loss and become more sensitive to temperatures. Here are some considerations to take into account when exposing people with dementia to heat and light.

 

Regarding heating…

 

Elders might not feel the heat

When aging, the body no longer transpires nor regulates the body temperature, meaning that they don’t notice if they are overheating, and sometimes they overdress. It becomes more problematic when it comes to someone with dementia and non-verbal because, even if they do feel the heat, it will be very complicated for them to communicate it. It is important to pay attention to this and make sure they dress with fresh clothing and wear natural fibers.

 

They can dehydrate easily

Temperatures can rise suddenly and unnoticed, and exposure to exteriors raises the chances of being affected by those changes. People with dementia can easily dehydrate or suffer heat stress, which worsens dementia symptoms and could lead to a deadly stroke. It is better to avoid going outside during the hottest hours of the day or having long walks under the sun.

 

Some medications might interfere

Consider that some medications like antipsychotics that are often given to dementia patients can cause the body lose control over heat regulation. In these cases, it is good to encourage people to drink more water and avoid strong fluids like tea or coffee.

 

Regarding lighting…

 

Light compensates poor eyesight

As we age, we begin to lose our sight, so it is important that everything around is adequately illuminated to compensate for the eyesight loss. Specially, people with dementia need it to find things around them easier.

 

Natural light is a better option

Our eyes are designed to use natural light, which explains why this is the best option for people with dementia and sight loss. Natural light reaches more areas than artificial light and exposes color and contrast that make objects more distinguishable. It is important to take as much advantage of natural light as possible in every part of the home.

 

Artificial lighting has to be intense and uniform

Natural lighting is ideal but, sadly, it doesn’t last the 24 hours. So the goal with artificial lighting is to imitate natural one as much as possible. The intensity of the light can vary depending on the person’s preferences but interiors have to be able to reflect it and let it reach every corner. However, it does have to be uniform in every room of the house since people with sight loss have harder times adapting to changes in illumination.

If you want to find out more about how heating and lighting affects people with dementia, and also learn to implement improvements in their care, don’t forget to buy the book “10 Helpful hints on heating and lighting for people with dementia and their carers.”