​Compassionate Elderly Care: Helping Seniors with Alzheimer's Get through Hospital Stays

Posted: 5/27/2015 8:07 AM by Interim HealthCare
Elerly Care Tips by Interim HealthCare

Managing the elderly care for any aging adult can be difficult, but when your senior loved one has Alzheimer's disease, you could face even more challenges. One of the greatest of these challenges comes when your senior must visit the hospital. Aging adults with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are more prone to infection, illness, and injury than other adults, and tend to experience more serious consequences due to compromised immune systems and difficulty managing treatments, which means that hospital visits and stays tend to increase as the diseases progresses. Visiting a hospital can be frightening for these elderly adults, making the experience stressful for everyone. Knowing how to approach a visit to the hospital with your senior can help you all get through the experience more calmly and with greater confidence.

Some of the reasons a visit to the hospital can be particularly stressful and frightening for a senior with Alzheimer's disease or other form of dementia include:

• Unfamiliar surroundings
• Bright lights
• High noise levels
• Large number of strangers
• Potentially painful treatments and procedures
• A rushed feeling
• Difficulty understanding the demands, questions, and orders of the professionals
• Inability to provide answers and reliable information when asked
• Confusion about the circumstances that brought them to the hospital
One of the most important tools you can have when your senior has to go to the hospital is an information sheet. Doctors, nurses, registration professionals, and people from the financial department will change regularly and you will need to be able to provide the same basic information about your parents over and over again. Having a laminated information sheet handy makes it easy to relay this information consistently and quickly. This sheet should have:

• Your parent's full legal name
• The name your parent prefers to be called
• Date of birth
• Medications and over-the-counter drugs he is currently taking, the dosage, and the schedule
• That he has dementia and how long he has had it
• Anxiety triggers and how he tends to react to them (anger, crying, biting, lashing out)
• Signs of unmet needs, such as what he does when he is hungry, thirsty, needs to go to the bathroom, or is uncomfortable
• Whether he suffers from urine or fecal incontinence and how you manage his symptoms
• Types of food and drink he likes and dislikes
• Any allergies he has
Some of the symptoms seniors with Alzheimer's may experience during a hospital stay include:

• Agitation and anxiety
• Volatile emotions
• Sleep pattern disruptions
• Hospital delirium, which is a term used to describe intense confusion upon entering the hospital
• Combativeness
• Refusal to cooperate with doctors and nurses
Hospital visits may be an inevitable part of your elderly care plan, but they do not have to be a terrifying one. Use these tips to help make the experience less stressful:

• Explain to your parents why they are going to the hospital and what they may do there. Do not hesitate to repeat yourself every time they ask, as the increased confusion of going to the hospital may make it harder for them to understand what is going on.
• Make sure every person who interacts with your parent know that he has Alzheimer's and how to interact with him effectively, including words, gestures, or touch that may make him uncomfortable or anxious.
• Utilize the services of a hospital case manager to act as your support system and connection with the care professionals, financial department, and others.
• Take notes of everything that happens while at the hospital, including times, names of people who interact with your parents, tests and treatments, and information given about their condition.
• Consider hiring an elderly health care services provider to help your parent get through his recovery after discharge and introduce this care provider before discharge to make the transition smoother.

If you have an aging loved one and are considering Home Care Services, contact Interim HealthCare today.