Hospitalizations and Rehab with a Dementia Patient: My personal experience with my mom

Any hospitalization comes with challenges. When the patient has dementia, it is even trickier.  You know the baseline or regular cognitive abilities of your loved one so it is imperative that you or a representative is present as much as possible to be an advocate.

My mom told me she had a severe headache. She has had several, mostly small, stokes in the past. I called her primary care doctor and they recommended she go to the ER.

Once in the ER she was asked to rate the pain on the scale of 1-10. She reported it as a 9.  She was immediately given IV Dilaudid. That was the first mistake. She does not process those types of medication well. She now acted so incoherently that it did indeed seem as if she had a stroke. Off she went for a brain CT scan.

The CT looked fine but they wanted to keep her in the hospital overnight for observation and to visit with the neurologist.  My mom was kept on IV painkillers and her dementia was exacerbated to the extent that I was worried that she would never come back to her baseline. I kept trying to explain to the doctor that something was different, and that her cognitive abilities were higher than she was presenting.

The neurologist decided to inject the occipital nerve in the neck with Marcaine, to see if the pain in the head would resolve. In the meantime, too many days in a hospital bed left my mom not able to walk. After several days in the hospital she was released to rehab.

I got a call from the rehab facility the very next morning that they were taking my mom to the ER for another CT scan because they found her slumped in her wheelchair. They gave her all of her medication for the day at one time. She became worse because she was over-medicated.

Back the to hospital she went, this time for two days.

Then off to a convalescent center for a couple of weeks.

All triggered because of pain killing drugs that should not have been administered.

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