When a Loved One with Alzheimer’s is Hospitalized
When a loved one lives with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, a stay in the hospital can present unique challenges, even if you know ahead of time they will be admitted for a routine surgery or medical procedure. Someone in even the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease can experience a rapid cognitive decline when they are suddenly taken from an environment that is familiar and comfortable to them. Add to that the pain and discomfort they may be feeling from their illness or surgery.
To help you keep your loved one as safe and peaceful as possible during this time, we’ve pulled together a quick checklist for caregivers:
- Explain your family member’s dementia status. Believe it or not, health care professionals don’t always know how to communicate with someone living with dementia. What is helpful is to have you explain their abilities with the care staff. It might be best to put this information in writing, especially outlining what they can and can’t do on their own. That will help when nurses and aides change shifts.
- Make a list of health conditions and medications. Caregivers for a loved one with Alzheimer’s should make a list of their loved one’s medical conditions and medications and keep a copy in a wallet or purse. That will help in the event of a medical emergency or planned hospitalization.
- Ask family to visit in shifts. Having a loved one with them as much of the time as is possible can help keep them safe and control agitation. When possible, ask friends and family to stagger the times they visit. That will also allow you to have someone who can answer questions about their condition available for the care staff.
- Make it easy for hospital staff to reach you. During the times you or another family member can’t be at your loved one’s bed side, make sure it is easy to reach one of you. Give the staff as many methods of contacting you as is possible before you leave the hospital.
We hope these tips help make your loved one’s hospital stay go more smoothly. If you have experienced this with someone you love and have advice for other caregivers, we’d love to hear it in the comments below.