An emergency room visit can be stressful for anyone, but especially for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Research even shows that hospital stays can be hazardous for adults with dementia.
Caregivers can make the experience easier on themselves and their loved ones by following a few helpful tips.
How to Navigate Emergency Room Visits for a Senior With Alzheimer’s
- Ask someone to come along.
Even if they have mild dementia, seniors should always bring another person with them to help explain symptoms to hospital staff and remember instructions. If you are the caregiver of a senior with more advanced Alzheimer’s, bring a second caregiver to divide up the responsibilities. Even if only one caregiver can be present, contact other family members to inform them of the situation.
- Be patient and comfort your loved one.
Hospitals can be confusing, frightening, and stressful. A familiar and comforting item from home, such as a pillow, photograph, or music player with headphones can help your loved one relax. Calmly and simply explain to them what is going on. Stay positive and reassuring.
- Tell providers your loved one has Alzheimer’s.
Let hospital staff know that your loved one has Alzheimer’s. Explain to them how your loved one prefers to communicate. This will help them better provide for their needs and reach a diagnosis.
- Know the symptoms.
Make sure you understand your loved one’s symptoms and can explain them to the hospital staff. Be prepared to explain them to different people multiple times. Let them know of any unusual behaviors or if symptoms start getting worse.
- Bring the right items.
The right paperwork can help an emergency room visit go more smoothly. Be sure you have the following:
- Health insurance cards
- List of current medications, allergies, medical conditions, and providers’ contact information
- Copies of healthcare advance directives
- Personal information sheet with your loved one’s preferred name and language, emergency contacts, need for assistance devices such as glasses or hearing aids, and living situation
- Snacks and bottled water
- Incontinence briefs, if needed, along with moist towelettes and plastic bags
- A change of clothing and toiletries for any caregivers
- Paper and pen for writing down information from hospital staff
- Cell phone and charger
If possible, keep these items packed at home and easily accessible in case of additional emergencies.
- Ask questions.
Don’t be afraid to bring up any issues or concerns with hospital staff. Ask for clarification when needed. Write down all of the information each of their physicians and health care professionals share. Make sure you fully understand follow-up care.
Compassionate Memory Care
Seniors with memory loss, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease, often require special levels of care. At Heritage Senior Communities, we have several assisted living communities with dedicated memory care programs. Each one is focused on reducing stress and enhancing quality of life for residents. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.