If you’re a family caregiver caring for an older adult with dementia, you know the condition can make even the most common situations challenging. But, when something is out of the ordinary, dementia can make things nearly impossible.
Going to the hospital is one situation that can be particularly difficult. This is especially true if the senior needs to go to the emergency room where things can be unfamiliar and chaotic even for people without cognitive difficulties. Being prepared for a hospital visit, either scheduled or emergency, can help take some of the chaos and frustration out of the trip.
Below are some tips for taking someone with dementia to the hospital.
Take a Friend Along
If possible, take someone along to help you with the senior, preferably someone the older adult knows well and is comfortable with. Having someone along to help comfort the senior while you deal with paperwork and answer the medical staff’s questions will make your job as a caregiver much easier.
Inform Hospital Staff
Having dementia isn’t something that is always readily apparent when looking at a senior. Immediately inform hospital staff that the senior has dementia so they can approach them appropriately. You may also have to tell them what works best for your aging relative and what their current capabilities are.
Have a “Go Bag” Ready
Keep an emergency bag ready that caregivers can grab on the way out the door. Keep a current copy of the senior’s medication list in the bag. It’s also useful to have copies of important documents in it. Examples of important documents are the senior’s Medicare card, insurance information, power of attorney, living will, etc.
Other items to place in the bag include:
- A complete change of clothing for the senior.
- Distractions, like a puzzle book, magazine, or a photo album for the senior to look through. Pack something for caregivers, too, as they could be sitting in a waiting room for a while.
- Snacks and a bottle of water.
- Contact information for family members who need to be kept informed.
It may not be easy but try to be patient. Not just with the senior, but also with doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff. It’s understandable for caregivers to feel stressed about what is going on and want answers quickly. However, your loved one is not the only patient the staff has to attend to, and it can take some time for lab results to come back. Waiting is hard for seniors with dementia, too, especially when they are in unfamiliar surroundings. Try to understand the fear and confusion they may be feeling. Do your best to soothe them. If you need a break, ask another family caregiver to step in while you collect yourself and rest a bit.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Caregiver Services in Media PA, please contact the caring staff at True Direct Home Health Care today.
Doc, as he is called by everyone - staff, patients and clients - first experienced home health care and hospice care while as a colleg student at King's College as he cared for his mother every day while she first battled COPD and then lung cancer. It was during this time that he came to understand that caring for a patient was more than just clinical expertise.
"Admittedly, my strongest attribute is my communication skills and the simple fact that I love to help people. Even the smallest thing you can do for someone really can mean so much to them long term. In fact, it could change them forever. That's what providing quality personal home health care should be all about."
In his spare time, he cooks for homeless shelters and children's music and arts events. He also is highly involved in his local youth sports soccer academy as a coach and Board member.
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