It is smart to bring a senior in a confused state to the hospital for an evaluation. Some possible explanations can include minor dehydration, less oxygen to the brain or unknown etiology. Some medications can cause changes in behaviors if too much is taken at one time.
Q: My father was hospitalized because he presented with confusion. After all of the diagnostic testing, the medical doctor could not find any reason for my father's change. During my father's hospitalization, his confusional state stopped. Should I be concerned that nothing could be found? Also, I am worried that this will happen again. My father lives alone and is able to care for himself, but should I now hire 24-hour help?
A: Unfortunately, medical science can only go so far. You were smart to bring your father to the hospital for an evaluation. Keep a journal with notes on your father's memory. If he suffers another state of confusion, you will have your notes to reflect upon and use when you speak with the physician.
Some possible explanations can include minor dehydration, less oxygen to the brain (at that moment -- this is possible if your father has a history of high blood pressure) or unknown etiology.
Also, check your father's medications to see if he may have taken too much of one or more medications. Some medications can cause changes in behaviors if too much is taken at one time.
Observe your father's ability to manage himself at home, which consists of meal preparation, personal hygiene and walking. If there are changes, then consider hiring help during the day. The person in the home will be able to provide you with additional information on your father's daily routine.
Q: My parents fought throughout my childhood. Now they are discussing moving into assisted living. Should they continue to share an apartment or should I insist on two separate living quarters?
A: If your parents are considering a move into an assisted living facility, then they need to make the decision if they want individual units or if they want to share.
Although they often disagree, this is their norm, this is their relationship and this is all they know. Some couples do not see themselves as arguing when they raise their voices to each other.
Discuss with your parents the benefits of living together and the benefits of living alone, but ultimately it is their decision. As long as your parents are competent in the eyes of the law they are able to make their own decisions. Also, two units can become costly and finances need to be considered in this move.
Q: My sister was just diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. I am worried about her and I am worried about myself. I am a younger sister. Are there places doing research on new medications or research that I can investigate for both of us?
A: The Alzheimer's Association funds studies throughout the country every year. Last year, $13 million was awarded for research. There are many projects funded but many other projects are unable to be funded because of lack of money.
Contact the Alzheimer's Association at 800-272-3900 or 617-868-6718 to discuss research studies. They have a list of ongoing research projects that are looking for volunteers. The Alzheimer's Association has opportunities for volunteers throughout the country.
ElderCare Resource Services is a partnership of geriatric nurses and social workers that helps families to investigate, assess and recommend medical and non-medical care and resources for seniors. Send questions to SeniorSavvy@ElderCareResourceServices.com or ElderCare Resources Inc., 29 Gano Road, Marlborough, MA 01752, or call them at 508-879-7008.