Spending time in hospital is stressful for the person with dementia, their carer, and their family. Hospitals are doing their best to make the experience more positive for everyone involved – the patient and their support team – but being prepared as a carer can also make it a bit easier for everyone too.
If you’re caring for someone with dementia, have an emergency hospital bag already packed that you can keep at home for ‘just in case’ so you can just grab it and go without worrying, to reduce your stress.
Here are some suggestions of what you can put in the emergency hospital bag for you, the person you care for, and to help the hospital team out. (We also recommend that you use this check list as a basis for what to put in a hospital bag if your visit is planned too).
What to put in the emergency hospital bag…
…for the person with dementia:
Include a change of bed clothing , extra underwear, toiletries, moist hand wipes, plastic bags for soiled clothing, some photographs, comfort objects (i.e. like a blanket if used, a specific item of clothing, a radio/ music or media player (with earphones) if this soothes them) , and a small amount of cash.
…for you (the carer):
Keep a pen and paper handy so you can write down information you are told.
Keep important paperwork in the bag, so you have it at hand if needed, including: enduring or lasting power of attorney, living will (advance directive) and/or an original DNACPR (Do Not Attempt Resuscitation) order.
…to help the hospital team:
Include a list of medication that the person with dementia is on including dosage instructions, a list of medications they have had a bad reaction to, and a note of any significant illnesses or medical conditions (past and present).
Create a personal information sheet to help inform doctors. Include: the name the person prefers to be called; the language they communicate in; contact information for doctors, key family members, minister and helpful friends; whether the person wears glasses, dentures, hearing aid or needs mobility aids; the amount of assistance the person needs with personal care and mealtimes; regular daily routines they follow; how they express their needs and emotions; and background information on family and home life, important major life events, favourite foods and music.
Information for this post was kindly provided by Admiral Nurse Pam Kehoe.