A recent study of elderly people admitted to hospital found that those affected with dementia were suffering because hospital staff have no idea how to treat them. The study went on to suggest that hospitals should assume that all older people potentially have dementia.
I believe this is a dangerous conclusion to reach without a proper assessment. It is perfectly natural for people who are ill and whisked into a strange environment to be dis-orientated. When, as often is the case, they also have to wait around for hours; it is not surprising that some of them become agitated and sometimes unreasonable. Not all confusion is the result of dementia and if staff treat elderly people automatically as if they are mentally ill, then other more treatable health conditions could be missed.
Yes, of course staff should be properly trained to look out for dementia, but they should assume elderly people are mentally aware, UNTIL they have good evidence to suggest otherwise.
About a third of all residents who are thought to have dementia are treated with anti-psychotic drugs (the chemical COSHH). This is often for the patients’ safety, but also for the staff’s convenience. It is restraint by another name. Patients treated this way often become drowsy and even more confused. Incontinence and pressure sores are frequent outcomes and the elderly person is often discharged from hospital with even more problems than when they were first admitted.
A diagnosis of dementia should only be made after careful consideration by experts. Anything less can lead to long-term incorrect treatment and the writing off of a life. Jumping to conclusions is not a good answer.
For other blogs on Dementia, click on “Dementia” under TOPICS