A trip to the emergency room can be stressful for anyone. For seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, however, there are unique challenges. Issues ranging from impaired verbal skills and increased agitation can add to the anxiety, and family members may struggle to keep a loved one safe.
Here are a few tips a family caregiver can review just in case the need for emergency care arises.
Whenever possible, try to bring a friend or another family member with you to the emergency room. That will help keep the senior safely occupied while you talk with the doctors and nurses.
While no one likes to think the worst will happen, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for any possibility. Pack a small bag with snacks, disposable wipes, incontinence products, and a change of clothes. Store it in an easily accessible location or in the trunk of your car.
It’s easy to assume healthcare professionals will know about dementia care and how to communicate with an adult who has Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. You will likely need to explain your family member’s challenges to multiple personnel in the emergency room. Also let the medical staff know if there are any unusual behaviors they should anticipate.
Make them aware that you will need to accompany your loved one, if at all possible, if they need to go to a different room for x-rays or treatment.
A hospital can be frightening and stressful under the best of circumstances. For those with memory loss, it can be overwhelming.
Environment plays a key role in managing the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s, so ask for a room in a quieter area of the emergency room. It may also help to play soothing music on your cell phone while you are waiting.
When you are busy trying to talk with the staff and keep your family member calm, it’s easy to miss important details. Before you leave the hospital, be sure you understand the discharge instructions and what follow-up may be required. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as necessary to feel confident about the care your loved one will need.
Families often find a memory care community helps an adult with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia live their best quality of life. From dedicated dining programs to thoughtfully designed life-enrichment activities, it’s an environment that supports success.
We can help you in your search. Call 888-514-6461 to talk with one of our experienced senior care advisors for free!