Researchers at the Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston, says being hospitalized seems to increase the chances of Alzheimer’s patients moving into a nursing home, or even dying, within the following year. The risk increases if those patients experience “delirium”, a state of extra confusion and agitation, during their stay.
“It’s a very stressful time, being in the hospital,’’ says lead researcher Dr. Tamara Fong. Often families tell her, “Dad was never the same after he had that surgery and he was confused.’’
Earlier this year, researchers reported that people with dementia are more likely than other senior citizens to be hospitalized, especially for conditions such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, worsening heart failure or dehydration. These are often preventable issues that might have been treated in the doctor’s office if they had been caught earlier.
Experts say families must be alert for any new symptoms and seek care early to avoid a hospitalization. If a hospital stay can’t be avoided, family members should stay with and reassure the patient, make sure they have their glasses or hearing aids, and bring in familiar items.