Hospitalization for a person with Alzheimer’s disease is almost inevitable sometime during their life with dementia.
Being properly prepared will help assure a more comfortable experience for your loved one. The following steps will definitely ease the mind of the caregiver and the person with Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Ideally, an early discussion between the primary care giver and the person with Alzheimer’s will allow for a clear understanding concerning the wishes of your loved one and the fact that hospitalization is a choice. Sometimes, depending on the progression of the disease and the severity of the medical condition, hospice might be an alternative.
2. Along with an early discussion of the chance of needing medical care beyond the normal check-up, your loved one will benefit from being registered for a MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return bracelet. Also, know who you can depend on. Whether a family member or friend, it is imperative that the primary care giver has a back-up, a reliable person to take care of, or assist in a medical emergency.
3. ALWAYS have a personal information sheet readily available, no matter whether it is a routine trip to an agency helping with your loved one, or if you are facing a medical emergency. This sheet should include:
- The preferred name of the person with Alzheimer’s disease and the language he/she speaks,
- All contact information with doctors, key family members, clergy and helpful friends,
- Pharmacy information with current medicines and dosage instructions, any medications that have caused an adverse reaction, any allergies to medicines or foods, and special diet instructions, if applicable,
- Need for glasses, dentures, and/or hearing aids,
- Degree of memory impairment and amount of assistance needed for daily living skills, and
- Family information, living situation, and any pertinent major life events.
4. It is important to have paperwork available, such as: insurance cards, Medicaid and/or Medicare cards, durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will, and/or an original DNR (do not resuscitate) order.
5. Supplies for the person enduring the medical emergency: a change of clothing, extra adult briefs, reassuring or comforting objects and possibly, an iPod, MP3 or CD player, with earphones/speakers.
6. As the caregiver, it is important you have a bag packed and ready with a change of clothing, medicines you might require, cash, cell phone and charger, and a small package of snacks.
Now, that you and your loved one are prepared in case of an emergency, there are a few things to remember, once you arrive at the hospital. Keep in mind the person with dementia will possibly be in pain and dealing with fear of the unknown. Be patient with the timeliness of necessary hospital procedures. However, YOU are the advocate for the person with Alzheimer’s disease, so YOU have the right and responsibility to make sure your loved one is treated with respect and given the BEST medical care possible.
In conclusion, a trip to the hospital, or a need to be placed under hospice-care, will most likely be a time of stress and fear for the person with Alzheimer’s disease and for you. With all of these preparations in place, your ability to support your loved one will be the number one focus and an assurance to you that everything possible has been done to make this a time of as much comfort and peace, as possible.