Dementia Patients in the Hospital

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Dementia Patients in the Hospital

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hospital-736568_640Reading Denise's post, Painful Chests, started me thinking about my husband's last visit to the ER and subsequent admission to the hospital.

I was afraid to leave his side because of his dementia. He says "No" to everything. I had been there with him three days and the nurses seemed to understand how to work with him. Ignore the "Nos" and do what needs to be done. (Every morning he asks me to fix his oatmeal and before I can get it made, he starts saying, "No I can't eat it." He often continues with the no's even after the first couple of spoonfulls and he is feeding himself. But I digress.)

I left the hospital to go home and take a shower. When I got back, there was a nurse on duty I had not met. I asked her how everything was she indicated that there had been no problems. When I asked a specific question about the medicine, she said, "Oh, He did not take any of his evening meds." Why not?? He refused. Of course. I had her bring the meds back to my husband so he could take them.

Have you had similar experiences? Is there any way to assure that patients with dementia will be taken care of despite what they may say, short of staying there every minute. At my age it is hard on me.

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Desiree

What really, really pisses me off about all this, is the feeling that I- we- are having to do the hospital's damn job for them! It's not enough for us to be our loved one's advocate, and be a very important, active part of their care...we are also having to act as their guard dog, making sure that the supposed \"professionals\" don't end up killing their own patient! This is, to a lesser degree, the reason why I refuse to use those self-checkout lanes at stores. They save me nothing in time or expense, just make it easier for the company to hire fewer cashiers. It's absolute bull-pucky, but I don't expect it to end anytime soon. We seem to be living in a time of lowered standards and reduced expectations.

Denise

When my mom was hospitalized, I wrote on a whiteboard in her room that my brother and I need to be notified of any changes or decisions. My mom doesn't have dementia but the staff would still appear in her room at 11 p.m., tell her she had a change in condition and then ask her to authorize a treatment or procedure. ARGH! If there isn't a whiteboard, you could tape a note above the bed headboard with instructions for staff.

Goldie

oh yeah. I know my mother says she can take her shower by herself, but she's not safe. I know she sounds confident, but you have her chart. You should know her dementia affects her skills more than her memory. She remembers lots of details from the morning and from yesterday, but she doesn't know how to get herself a glass of water. I don't care if you're short handed and it's helpful for her to do it herself. She can't. Not safely, anyway. \r\nLast time she did this when my sister was staying with them, mom came out happily and said there might be a little bit of water in there. My sister went in to find standing water an inch deep on the floor and about 6 towels on the floor in the water.

Desiree

Yes indeed. For the last year of her life, my mother (who had kidney failure and what I believe was vascular dementia, among other issues) was in and out of the hospital, ER and ICU, at least once a month. My dad and I did our best to make it so one of us was always there with her. Because her ability to think clearly, express herself clearly, and understand what anyone else was saying to her was pretty much gone. Nurses and doctors would ask her how she's doing, she'd say, just fine! I'd tell them to ask her what year it was, or who's the president. Her answers- year 1920 (she was born in 1943), or president Nixon, told them much more about her true state. And, yes, I did get into one or two fairly tense \"discussions\" with hospital staff regarding her need for pain meds etc. They seemed all too willing to take a dementia patient at her word about damn near everything, including a drug allergy that nearly killed her twice, but she would steadfastly deny.