Pebble Beach, CA Alzheimer's Victims Going To The Hospital Often End Up In A Nursing Home Or Worse, Pass Away : View From A Private Duty Caregiverby Richard Kuehn on 06/27/12
At Family inHome Caregiving, we work with a number of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease on a daily basis. It's difficult to see them struggle through the many phases of the disease, and even more difficult when you see them hospitalized. Many have slip and falls and there are myriad other problems that happen in the later stages of the disease which can land them in the hospital. Some of them forget how to do what most of us take for granted, going to the bathroom regularly or chewing and swallowing food. Hospitalization can be devastating, not just on a physical level but emotionally, as those with Alzheimer's disease loathe being taken out of their familiar surroundings. It was good to see the many issues those suffering from Alzheimer's disease face publicized in the mainstream press. People with dementia are far more likely to be hospitalized than those the same age without dementia, and many of the reasons are preventable. Common reasons include an unnoticed infection like a Urinary Track Infection (UTI). Those with Alzheimer's disease or dementia often don't know how to tell someone when they are suffering, or they don't want to bother those helping them. A new study found that being hospitalized increases the chances that a person with Alzheimer's will be moved into a nursing home or die within the next year. The risk is even higher for those with delirium, a state of extra confusion and agitation during their stay. The study found that each year, in fairly high functioning Alzheimer's victims, about 4% of the patients who weren't hospitalized ended up in a nursing home and 2% died. But a whopping 29% of those hospitalized ended up in a nursing home and 43% of those who suffered from delirium while in the hospital were institutionalized. Of those who survived the hospital stay, 9% died in the following year and 15% of those with delirium did. The study was reported on Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Alzheimer's experts are now recommending caregivers take extra measures to try and recognize early signs of UTI's, dehydration and other potential illnesses which could land the Alzheimer's patient in the hospital. Caregivers should be alert for any new symptoms which could range from irritability to pain to hallucinations. If the person does have to be hospitalized, the study recommends getting a private room, avoid waking the patient at night, and limiting the time in the emergency room. In addition, the more a family person or another well known face can appear in the room, the more comfortable the person is likely to be in their new surroundings. I took care of my grandmother for five years. She had Alzheimer's disease and she was in and out of the hospital several times with UTI's, other illnesses and a broken hip from falling. Thankfully, she made it through a number of these events before passing away last year at the age of 97. But it was definitely a traumatic experience for her every time she was hospitalized, and I believe much of this was just the terror she felt at being in a new place and not knowing why. Regular readers of my blog know that I am a big supporter of the Alzheimer's Association, which has a 24-hour help line at 800-272-3900. They are also the largest private supporter of Alzheimer's research in the United States. Please help them with their important mission if you can by clicking on this link for Family inHome Caregiving fundraising site for Alzheimer's Association.