The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Hospitals: What Nurses Wish We Knew

We've done several blogs about visiting the ER and the hospital with our loved ones. We've talked about what we want the staff to know and do and how to best make that happen. But what about the other side? What do nurses wish family caregivers knew? Well, the people at Aging Care did a good job of compiling a list. You can read the whole article by clicking here, but this week's blog is an abbreviated list with a few of my own comments:

1. Aging adults are not children. This is especially true for those with dementia, which can cause them to act out in childish ways. But your loved one has had a full life and deserves respect. Be patient, make sure they are safe—but allow them as much independence as possible.

2. Look out for depression, which is especially common among the elderly. Do not to view this mental ailment as a "normal" side effect of aging, but as a disorder that can and should be treated. Depression can be a LBD symptom, but the treatment is the same. Click here for a list of depression symptoms to be alert for.

3. Recognize what your loved one has lost. The list probably includes family, friends or a beloved home the most profound is the loss of independence. This loss can be so upsetting, that it may cause your loved one to lash out and refuse your help. It is important for caregivers to resist viewing these as personal attacks.

4. It's important to keep moving. Your loved one may be resistant to physical activity due to stiff joints, sore muscles, or other mobility issues, but it's vital that they get their blood pumping in some way on a consistent basis. Regular physical activity is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stave off a host of undesirable ailments, including: osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. Research has also linked exercise with better brain health and a reduction in risk for developing depression.

5. Assume that your loved one can hear/understand you. With LBD, comprehension lasts much longer than the ability to speak clearly and hearing is one of the last things to go. We never know what our loved ones do and do not understand, so it's better to just assume that they hear and understand.

6. Everyone needs a break—even you. Caregivers hear it all the time, but it bears repeating: You'll be a better caregiver if you take a break. It's important for even close family caregivers take time to "disconnect" from their loved one. Caregiving needs to be a team effort in order to avoid burnout, but finding respite resources can be a challenge. Click here for some tips on how to find respite care.

These suggestions are for caregivers of the elderly in general but they are all very apt for anyone caring for a loved one with Lewy body dementia. These are all issues we've discussed in the past, but it doesn't hurt to bring them up again...and again. Thank you, nurses, and the Aging Care website.

For information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson’s & Lewy Body Dementia

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a physician's advice.

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