Can Hospital Stays Temporarily Cause or Exacerbate Symptoms of Dementia?
Keeping your loved ones safe and healthy might not be as easy as you first thought
Whether you’re a caretaker, nurse, family member, or other friend, caring for an elderly loved one or patient should be a priority. And it’s more important now than ever to keep watch of your loved ones or patients suffering with dementia—especially if they become hospitalized for any related or unrelated reason. Here’s why:
First, let’s admit that it’s common to think of hospitals as safe places for anyone with cognitive or medical difficulties. And for the most part, they are. But you might be surprised to learn that hospitals are not a happy place for patients suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
What are hospitals like for patients with dementia?
Imagine waking up in a brand new, strange place. Unlike your normal bedroom, it’s bright, it feels sterile, it’s cold and rather unwelcoming. Then, doctors and nurses seem to be surrounding you. You start to realize that you’re in the hospital, but you don’t know why. They begin to explain it to you, but you’re left feeling confused, scared, and alone.
What about your normal routine? Where is your family? Your friends? Come to think of it, who are your family and friends? Would you even recognize them if they were in the room with you? You can’t seem to remember much of anything right now, and you’re feeling more lost than ever.
To you, this example might sound extreme, but this is actually the case for a many elderly patients suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s clear why being in the hospital with dementia can be a negative experience for those suffering from the disease. It’s not that the doctors and nurses aren’t doing a good job — it’s that this change of scenery can send patients into a panic. On top of that, certain medications, techniques, and other medical practices can throw them for a loop.
But their state of confusion and fear can be more than just dementia-related
An added danger that many of us don’t really want to think about? Delirium. According to Mayo Clinic, “Delirium is a serious disturbance in mental abilities that results in confused thinking and reduced awareness of your environment. The start of delirium is usually rapid—within hours or a few days.” And it seems to affect patients greater when they’re already battling brain disease. Fox News reports that “Being hospitalized seems to increase the chances of Alzheimer’s patients moving into a nursing home… within the next year.” According to the Canadian Medical Association, “There is no single factor that brings on delirium. People who already have dementia or are particularly frail are at higher risk of acquiring the condition. Once in hospital, delirium can be caused by a combination of numerous factors, including surgery, infection, isolation, dehydration, poor nutrition and medications such as painkillers, sedatives and sleeping pills.”
That means that those who have dementia are at higher risk for developing symptoms of delirium. It’s just something to keep in mind when the person you care for requires hospitalization.
Keeping them safe 365 days a year
If you care for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s important to get them the care they need. But how? Proper home care could possibly be a wise solution. If you’re caring for an elderly patient at home, be sure to check out Caring Solutions’ wide selection of devices that will help keep them healthy, happy, and safe.