Being hospitalized can be an overwhelming ordeal no matter what age we are. Doctors and nurses ask tons of questions, hospital staff are in and out of your room, and you become disconnected from the outside world. Now, imagine if you have short term memory loss and cannot recall how you got there, what happened to you, why you are in the hospital, and what your medical history is. It puts an already challenging situation into a tailspin. Often times a person afflicted with dementia can experience an increase in their confusion and dementia symptoms while in a hospital setting and may require additional support. One of the benefits of our services is hiring a companion to sit bedside to a patient in a hospital or nursing home to provide attention, consolation, activities, and to call on the hospital staff when that person requires assistance.
There are many ways that you as the caretaker or guardian of a loved one with dementia can prepare for a hospitalization and make the stay a smoother process.
- First start by preparing a hospital folder in the event of an emergency that holds your loved one’s insurance ID’s, medical history, list of medications, doctors’ information and photo identification.
- Put together a hospital bag with socks, slippers with rubber soles, clothes, toothbrush, comb, hand sanitizer, and a familiar object for your loved one to hold onto to keep he/she calm (i.e. a pillow, blanket, stuffed doll, etc).
- Inform the admissions nurse, doctors, social worker, and other hospital staff that your loved one is cognitively impaired.
- Inform the hospital staff about what types of communication work best (i.e. verbal, body language, etc), what behaviors to expect, what triggers an outburst (if this is a tendency), what level of care your loved one requires, and how your loved one communicates pain.
- Create a sign in the hospital room that reminds your loved one that he/she is in a hospital. Place it somewhere he/she can easily see it.
- Maintain an open line of communication with the doctors and discharge planner to keep tabs on your loved one’s prognosis and when to expect a discharge date.
- While your loved one is in the hospital use the time to get his/her home setup with modifications and durable medical equipment as well as home care services.
Hospitalization is not easy in and of itself but being prepared will reduce the confusion and stress that accompanies a critical health condition and emergency care. Having the right items ready and communicating the appropriate information to the hospital staff not only helps your loved receive proper care but could even help with a speedier recovery.
Jennifer has specialized training in Alzheimer’s disease through the Long Island Alzheimer’s Association and the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation.She also volunteered her time with the Alzheimer's Disease Assistance Center of Long Island for 3 years by providing cognitive stimulation to an Alzheimer’s patient group.
Jennifer educates the community about elder care and speaks to caregiver support groups, senior centers, and at professional organizations.Topics include home safety, effective strategies for family caregiving, elder care planning, and awareness about elder abuse.