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Caring for your loved one with dementia

07 September 2021 Blog
For people with dementia, coming to hospital can be a stressful and unsettling experience as everything is new and unfamiliar. St John of God Mt Lawley Hospital Clinical Nurse Specialist Lily Smith explains how carers can work together with clinicians to care for and keep your loved one safe in hospital.

Let me start by saying “ageing is not for the faint hearted”! It can be a long journey of changes and re-orientating to a new normal on a frequent basis.

There are a number of health professionals who can offer help and support for a person with dementia, their spouse, carers and significant others. For each person who has been referred to hospital care as an outpatient or for a hospital admission, this big group of health professional’s work together to form a team approach.

It can be a fulltime occupation attending the many appointments that include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dietician, speech pathology, podiatry, social workers, geriatricians, general practitioners, nurses, ophthalmologists, dentists, and hearing centres.

Wow, what a journey to navigate. It may feel exhausting just thinking about it, but let me reassure you it is a necessary part of the journey.

Ways you can support your loved one when they come to hospital:

  • advise the hospital in advance that the patient has dementia so they can plan appropriate care
  • inform the treating team of any likes or dislikes so that they can accommodate them.
  • bring a photo or memento from home to provide some familiarity
  • regular visits from loved ones.

Reducing the risk of falls

People with dementia can have a higher risk of falling over when they are in hospital and this can have a negative effect on their recovery. While your loved one is in hospital, the team will put strategies in place to help prevent any falls from occurring.

You can support these strategies by letting the team know if you have any concerns regarding your loved one’s safety and by advising a member of the team when you are leaving the ward when the patient will be alone in their room.

Remember, we are all here to help you get through. You are not alone. 

Clinical Nurse Specialist Lily Smith
Lily Smith - Clinical Nurse Specialist
Lily Smith is the Clinical Nurse Specialist at St John of God Mt Lawley Hospital’s Day Therapy Unit. She has nursed in many different fields but the road has always led her back to aged care. Lily has had extensive dementia training and is passionate about assisting people to age well not just age. She is proactive in sharing her knowledge with others to improve patients’ quality of life.