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The ER Can Be a Major Challenge for Alzheimer’s Patients

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Feb 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

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Start planning long before a visit is needed.

Careful planning can often help patients with Alzheimer's to be more relaxed and comfortable if the day comes when a trip to the emergency room becomes necessary, according to The Advocate in “Alzheimer’s Q&A: What should I know before taking someone with Alzheimer’s to the emergency room.”

Start long before you must go to the ER by creating a list of your medications and have a few copies with you. Bring the medication list and any assistive devices, including hearing aids, dentures, an extra pair of glasses and any walking aids, like a walker or a cane.

You should also have a list of contact information for all healthcare providers and family members. If you have a power of attorney, bring that as well. If the individual has an advance directive or any other documents, like a do not resuscitate (DNR), bring those just in case. Make sure to have all health insurance information.

Expect a wait, so bring snacks. A portable music player with the person's favorite soothing music and headphones may provide some comfort. Magazines or books that are used during quiet times at home may be useful. Don't bring anything of value, like jewelry or a wallet. And don't bring a crowd. Small children, unless there is no one who can care for them, or other family members, are best left at home.

Unless the individual is having a life-threatening emergency, you will likely have to wait, and you may be waiting a while. Provide simple step-by-step explanations of what is taking place and be honest with them about why they are in the hospital and what is happening.

Focus on keeping them calm and comfortable. Offer a snack and if possible, find a quiet space in the waiting room.

Make sure that the hospital staff is aware you are there with a person who has Alzheimer's or dementia. They may not have training in caring for dementia patients, so be prepared to advocate for your parent or loved one. Offer suggestions in communicating with the person and ask doctors and medical personnel to limit their questions, which may increase stress and anxiety. Speak with the doctor privately, if possible.

Reference: The Advocate (Jan. 20, 2019) “Alzheimer’s Q&A: What should I know before taking someone with Alzheimer’s to the emergency room”

About the Author

Nina Whitehurst

Attorney at Law Nina has been practicing law for over 30 years in the areas of estate planning, real estate and business law She is currently licensed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee. Her Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating is the highest achievable: 5 stars in peer...

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