You know this because you’ve probably lived this: Hospitals can be a harsh environment for your caree. A lucid caree can become confused and disoriented hospital patient. A caree with Alzheimer’s can become combative and aggressive during a hospitalization.
This week, The New York Times toook an interesting look at the prevalence of hallucinations among hospitalized elderly patients. Pam Belluck, the article’s author, writes:
“The cause of delirium is unclear, but there are many apparent triggers: infections, surgery, pneumonia, and procedures like catheter insertions, all of which can spur anxiety in frail, vulnerable patients. Some medications, difficult for older people to metabolize, seem associated with delirium.”
Belluck followed up this article with a second, “Six Questions to Protect Elderly Patients.” Her six questions are really helpful as are the comments following the article, including this one:
“My late father, an anesthesiologist, said the quickest way to bring on dementia in an older patient was to give them demerol. He said it was a good drug, reduced pain, cleared quickly, etc. BUT it did often induce dementia in older people. He refused it when he was in the hospital even though he’d ordered it for thousands of patients. When my 88-yo grandmother was given demerol after a car accident, she insisted she was in a bad hotel rather than a hospital room and spent hours picking ‘bugs’ off her sheets and trying futilely to put on her pants which were actually a blanket. Once we persuaded the staff to ditch the demerol in favor of tylenol, she cleared and was fine in a couple of days. I just routinely tell people I’m allergic to it so they won’t give it to me. I’ve never had it, but don’t want to risk anything.”
I’m not sure how true or valid this advice is, but I will certainly take it under advisement.
How about you? How have you managed your caree’s hospital confusion? What tips can you share?
- Why Can’t Hospitals Do Better? (caregiving.com)
- Hospital Helps (caregiving.com)
- Quick Tip: Have a Bag Ready for Hospitalization (caregiving.com)
- Obama Requests New Hospital Rules for Patients Rights (caregiving.com)
- Updated Discharge Planning Guide Available (caregiving.com)