Dementia and Alzheimer’s hospital visits can be stressful. They are stressful for loved ones and patients with dementia, as well as for the caregiver. It can definitely take a toll getting your dementia loved one or patient ready and off to the hospital to see a doctor. Here’s how caregivers can make the trip a little less stressful.
For a planned hospital visit there are a few key things a caregiver can do. Being ready is important, and we hope the following will serve as your new top caregiver tips for dementia hospital visits. Let’s first take a look at planned hospital visits.
Getting Your Dementia Loved One or Patient Ready for a Planned Hospital Visit
Hospital visits are common occurrences when it comes to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They could be scheduled doctor visits or hospital stays. The most important thing you can do as a caregiver is to make dementia hospital visits a “when” thought rather than an “if” one.
Preparing to take your dementia loved one or patient to the hospital can make a huge difference in how much stress both you and them will experience.
Here are a few top dementia tips to make it less stressful:
- First and foremost, involve your loved one or patient with dementia in the process
- Get a support team together to help out (try not to do it on your own)
- Ask if the procedure can be done outpatient
- Ask if tests and labs can be done prior to make the visit shorter (break up the days)
- Talk to the doctor about side effects of potential surgery anesthesia
- Can you get a private room for your loved one or patient?
- Respect your loved one or patient’s right to privacy when discussing the hospital visit if they are not there
Just for you . . .
Top Dementia Tips During Hospital Visits
During the hospital stay, things may become more challenging. Your loved one or patient with dementia may forget why they are there. They may want to leave or do something different at the drop of a hat.
A few tips for during the hospital stay include:
- Work with doctors to keep information and questions accurate
- Ensure hospital staff understands your loved one or patient’s dementia stage
- Use your support team to always have one familiar face around at all times
- Be on the lookout for sudden changes in behavior, mood, and illness (tell doctors immediately)
- Help your loved one acclimate to the hospital stay by helping with food orders and opening things
- Ensure your loved one or patient with dementia keeps some routine during the hospital stay (TV show, usually game you play together)
- Keep them hydrated and be ready to assist them in bathroom breaks
- Make sure you keep lines of communication open with your loved one or patient during the hospital stay
- Take breaks for yourself when needed and be sure to lean on your support group
Dementia Hospital Visit Packing List
Being prepared is all about packing. If possible, always have things packed and ready to go far in advance. You may even find it beneficial to have a hospital bag ready for both planned hospital visits and emergency ones.
Here’s what caregivers can pack for their dementia loved ones or patients:
- Health insurance cards and copies of health insurance cards
- List of all medications, dosages, medical conditions, and allergies
- List of all doctors and health care providers (names, phone numbers)
- Copy of advance directives
- List of personal information (like a bio) of your loved one or patient with dementia
- Water and snacks (comfort foods) if they can have them during their hospital stay
- Incontinence underwear, moist wipes, plastic bags, etc.
- Music and comfort items your loved one or patient enjoys (good for high stress instances)
- Change of clothes and toiletries
- Small amount of cash to purchase items as needed
- List of emergency contacts
There is a lot of planning to do before your loved one or patient with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease heads off for a hospital visit. The essentials should be prepared and it is always an excellent idea to have an emergency bag ready. It is not a matter of “if,” but a matter of “when.”
Hospital visit support can also come in the form of tech solutions too . . .
You may also find a GPS tracking device that serves up a number of features for hospital visits helpful as well. The Caregiver Watch not only helps caregivers track and locate dementia patients that wander, but also has memory games, activity scheduling, remote camera and voice, SOS calling, and more.