Alzheimers and ER Visits
Tips on Emergency Room Visits
While making a trip to the emergency room can be a frustrating and terrifying experience for any person, emergency rooms visits can be even more overwhelming when the individual suffers from dementia. If you have to take your loved one with dementia into the emergency room for care, you may face extra challenges with this task. Visiting the emergency room can be scary, chaotic and confusing to these individuals as they are thrust into a new environment. Here are some tips on how to handle emergency room visits with an individual with dementia.
- Whenever possible, you should see if you can first take your loved one to their normal primary care physician or have a nurse offer them care instead of going to the hospital. While there are many situations that may necessitate the care of a hospital emergency room, there may be others that just require the care of a nurse or other medical professional. - Before taking your loved one to the ER make sure that they have gotten the X-rays, blood resting, or diagnostic testing from a primary care provider if possible. Only visit the ER if it is the only choice. - Transporting someone with dementia to the emergency room is often challenging. While you may think that transportation with an ambulance can be too overwhelming, many times if your loved one is really in need of care, it is best that they are transported in an ambulance rather than a car. This is because with an ambulance, they can be strapped onto a stretcher and they can be monitored by someone during the ride. If this truly is an emergency, then they can also start receiving care during the ride on their way to the emergency room. - Your loved one with dementia should also be accompanied by a friend, caregiver or family member. They will need to be there to answer questions, provide accurate information to the medical professionals, and help keep the individual with dementia calm and properly oriented. - If possible, make sure that you, the caregiver, have as much medical information about the individual as possible. If you have time make certain you have grabbed their medication information and that you have any vital information about the individual that the doctors may ask questions about. - Have an ER bag packed and ready to go with their medical information. This bag should also have contact numbers, allergy information, insurance information and vitamins or over the counter medication as well. You should also put copies of any legal documents in the bag as well as a change of clothing. - Be prepared for the individual with dementia to have a mental status examination. - Keep in mind that many times these situations can cause the individual with dementia to act differently than they normally do. Those with dementia often yell, scream, become scared or overwhelmed and may also claim that simple tests like taking blood pressure are extremely painful. Many times these reactions come from those with dementia come out of fear or confusion.