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Hospitalization and Dementia:
The Role of the Caregiver
By Sandra O’Connell

(Page 4 of 4)

6.  Take time to get to know the nursing staff.
Many hospitals will be grateful for your ongoing presence as it can make their job easier.  Help the staff to understand your loved one's preferences—limits as well as capabilities. Be direct about the person’s abilities and limitations and identify any specific needs.

“Dad will try to remove the IV, so please put extra tape over the needle.”
“My uncle likes cranberry juice rather than apple juice.”
“Mom will need to eat more than applesauce before she takes that medication.”

Be respectful of the times for bathing, medication, and other hospital routines.  Of course, just as you get one nurse familiar with your situation, the shift for the week will change and you start all over.  Bring a treat or flowers now and then for the nursing station.  Show your appreciation and acknowledge the job they are doing.

As a caregiver for a person with Alzheimer's disease, recognize that a trip to the hospital is highly likely.  Prepare in advance as much as possible; have the medical records up to date, be ready with a family member or back-up caregiver who can be an advocate, and pack your bag as you are the constant in your loved one’s care.

Highly Recommended Reading:
Acute Hospitalization and Alzheimer's Disease: A Special Kind of Care, booklet available from National Institutes of Health. 


Sandra O'Connell was an Alzheimer's caregiver for her husband, Rev. Ralph L. Minker, for 14 years.  As a member of the Alzheimer's Speaker's Bureau, National Capitol Area, she has presented programs for a wide range of audiences on  Alzheimer's disease, the Healthy Brain, Caregiver Communication Skills, and Research Updates.  Sandra has been a guest lecturer in the Geriatric Program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.  She was the project manager for "Alzheimer's Disease: A Family Matter," a training film which won a Cine award for training documentary. 


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