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Hospitalization and delirium
Monday, November 18, 2013
I will be writing my column in the South Shore Senior News this month on hospitalization and delirium in the elder with dementia. It is an important subject as 50 % of elders experience delirium in the hospital and more like 75 % of those with dementia do. People with dementia get less pain medication and 3 times the antipsychotics that other patients do. Why is this? People with dementia cannot express their feelings well verbally so they show others their distress. Like the small child who cannot say, "Mommy, get off the phone and change my soiled diaper." but 'shows' her by screaming or pulling on her skirt to get her attention, so the elder with dementia who is in pain may scream, or hit the bed rails to let staff know. If staff isn't trained they respond with something to take care of the behavior rather than take charge of the problem. So, if your elder is hospitalized, let the staff know about this problem. You might want to stay or have a sitter stay with your family member to speak for her.
At the hospital I teach at a few hours a month has a program for nurses called NICHE to teach nurses about the special challenges of the elderly. I'm going to give them a talk on this very subject to do my part to reinforce their education. I'll let you know how it goes.
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