Janice’s 87 year old husband, Fred, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease over five years ago. In addition to heart problems, which leave him feeling lethargic. Fred’s hearing is below average which makes communication challenging. Janice shares their experiences in hospital and strategies that could make a positive difference.
A story can be submitted by anyone who wants to make a difference – health service managers, doctors, nurses, allied health, hospital care and support staff, health professionals in primary health and community care, consumers, family members and carers. As people join the campaign their stories will be added and grouped into categories:
- Individuals working in hospitals
- Consumers and carers
- Primary health and community workers
- Supporting organisations
In addition stories from hospitals that are participating in the campaign are also included and can be viewed from the Hospitals page.
Knowing that a loved one has to have surgery – even if it isn’t major – is always a worrying time. Knowing that your loved one has life-threatening, rare medical conditions, and also has dementia, which may cause complications for the anaesthetist and cause further deterioration, is even more worrying. Barbara Halloran shares her story.
Mabel’s mum had vascular dementia for 15 years before she passed away in 2014. She had been hospitalised more frequent in later years, eight times in 2010. Her father also suffered Alzheimer’s dementia for three years before he passed away in 2014. Mabel cared for her parents and travelled regularly from Newcastle to their nursing home in Sydney to look after them and stay with them in hospital. Mabel’s story highlights the challenges faced in managing her parent’s illness, including the fact that English was not their first language and that Mabel had to travel long distances to help care for them.
Bob is married to Allison, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2006. Bob writes about his wife’s hospitalisation in 2009 for her second knee replacement. Bob was cautious the second time as Allison had climbed out of her hospital bed after her first knee replacement operation in 2004 (prior to her formal diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease). On that first occasion, Allison had post-operative delirium and tried to leave the hospital as she was convinced that she was being held captive by a secret sect. As Allison’s second knee replacement operation would involve surgery under heavy anaesthetic, followed by five days in a private hospital and 10 days in a rehabilitation centre, Bob and Allison decided it was necessary for Bob to stay with Allison in the hospital and rehabilitation centre. Bob says “someone with dementia should be kept under constant surveillance immediately following a major operation.”
Joan Jackman is a former carer of her husband who had younger onset dementia. Joan challenges us to have a deeper understanding of the experience of a person with dementia. In particular, how changes in language and perception can affect how a person communicates. Joan stresses that we should never lose our respect and understanding that the person is still there.
Imelda Gilmore is married to Graham (68), who has younger onset dementia and lives in residential care. Graham is in the late stages of dementia, and has had three presentations to the emergency department (ED) due to falls. Imelda writes that Graham’s last ED visit was much less stressful than previous trips, as unnecessary investigations were avoided, and the focus was on Graham’s comfort.
“When staff actually "get it", the experience for the patient and the carer is much less stressful…” (more…)
I am a person living well with dementia, supported by my husband. About a year ago, I became very ill with severe gastro-type pain and passing out. (Later this was identified as diverticulitis, so nothing to do with my dementia.) I was taken by ambulance to the ‘resus bay’ of the emergency department, as I had very low blood pressure and a troubling heart rate. My husband was following, so got there later, and couldn’t come in to see me until I had been stabilised. He must have been very worried to find I was in the resuscitation area. (more…)
Brett Partington runs Dementia Downunder, an online support group for people in Australia who are impacted by dementia
Brett shares his story about his father, Bob, who is currently in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease and has previously displayed uncharacteristic aggressive and disturbing behaviour during hospital admissions. Their story highlights that making the effort to learn about a person with cognitive impairment and consulting with family members is time well spent.
“The value of knowing a person with dementia's background and history cannot be emphasised enough. You cannot successfully care for someone with cognitive decline unless armed with this knowledge. Calling people by their name, advocating for them, and entering their world are simple steps that can go a long way. Dignity and respect has to be a priority, and given to people at all times.” (more…)