When a person with dementia goes into hospital

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People with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia go into acute hospitals more often than the rest of the population. It is worth knowing what to do for the best when it happens. This is really important, because an acute hospital is full of avoidable dangers and can ruin their stability, causing chaos and distress for the rest of their life, and even in some cases shortening it.

You need to think about all aspects including Accident and Emergency, visiting tactics on the ward, reducing the risk of pain and delirium, how to look out for medication errors and how to get out of hospital and home safely.

A challenging environment

An acute hospital is really challenging for people with dementia and the advice I give is based on practical experience of nurses, and other health care professionals, as well as research. There is a whole chapter on the dangers of a hospital admission and how to avoid them. Hospitals may know that they are in trouble and work hard to make things better. I have been invited to look into hospitals that were struggling and with Mark Butler was the co-author of a government report on the care of frail older people in acute hospitals that is leading to changes in health services. But until you are sure that your own hospital is at the top of the game, you need to know how to look after your own family and yourself.

Finding hints and tips that work

Professional staff need to know these hints and tips because they themselves will have to advise patients and those who care for them. In dementia, there really needs to be an equal partnership for hospital care, because it is not the hospital that deals with the aftermath if things are not right. Andrews, June Dementia; the one-stop guide. Practical advice for families, professionals, and people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; Profile books, London, 2015    The “Trusted to Care” Report in Wales highlighted these issues.