As the number of hospital admissions rises, so, too, does concern for those being treated during the pandemic who also have dementia.
'Being in hospital can be very frightening for people who have dementia, the unfamiliarity of faces and the environment, coupled with much noise, can lead to some people experiencing fear,' said dementia nurse consultant, Dr Jane Mullins.
'This is made worse when they may not be able to understand what is being said to them and often when they are unable to express themselves clearly. Such fear can result in an expression of agitation, which can become quite severe if they are not reassured and made to feel safe.
The best way to help is for all staff to understand some important information about the person. If your loved one is in hospital, you may want to send in some of the following information for the staff and if possible some pictures. You can use this as a template if that helps:
What name do they want to be called by?
Who are the most important people in their life (including pets)?
What routines work when at home (and what doesn’t)?
What helps them when they feel anxious (and what may make them feel worse)? This may include music, fiddling with meaningful objects, looking at a view.
What should you say to them to help them feel less anxious? e.g. 'I understand you are missing your wife. Tell me about her. Was she a good cook?'
What they can do for themselves (and what they need help with) in terms of personal care?
Do they wear a hearing aid and glasses?
Important points that you would like the staff to know
Cultural, religious and spiritual beliefs (this may include practices related to personal care, e.g. ablutions before prayer)
How do they take their medication?
Food preferences: do they need thickened foods if they struggle with swallowing? Can they use cutlery or is finger food easier? Are they on a special diet?
What is their sleeping pattern like? What helps them sleep?
How they are able to get up and out of a chair? Do they need help with walking?'
For more articles and advice for people looking after loved ones at home living with dementia, visit the Finding the Light in Dementia website.