Should dementia patients stay inside the house? - AgingCare.com

Should dementia patients stay inside the house?

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My 92 year old father just returned from the hospital. He had had hallucinations, which were either due to an infection or to medication. in Some family members think he should remain in the house with his one caregiver to eliminate sensory overload and risk of falling. Others think he should be able to go outside, go to church, and visit family members. and do what he enjoyed doing before. Some say that any of his words should be discounted because he doesn't kown what he is saying -- even if his sentences are clear. Others say that since they are with him most of the time that they understand what he means. Should he be listened to? Is the medical treatment of dementia more important than the human need to have your loved ones with you?

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I'd side with the "others" on this issue. Over-stimulation is a genuine risk in dementia, but so is under-stimulation. We can't generalize about what is best for all dementia patients. So take dad on walks. Ask his caregiver to sit outside with him for their afternoon snack. Judge for yourself whether this is too much stimulation. I wouldn't start out by taking him to a crowded street festival, but a walk in a park or a drive to see fall colors might be just perfect for him. My husband loved going through our city's wonder botanical conservatory throughout his dementia, and his neurologist encouraged that.

Falling is a real risk for the elderly. Take sensible precautions. We always used a wheelchair for our outings, even though my husband walked around just fine in our house.

Those who know your father well AND are around him a lot will develop a skill for recognizing confusion in what he says. And those who read about and are familiar with how dementia develops will be aware of common delusions. If father says someone is sneaking in the house and stealing his reading glasses, that is a common accusation from dementia patients. Don't argue with him but, yes, "discount" what he is saying. Absolutely he should be listened to, and taken seriously. Just don't take his delusions as the literal truth.

Dementia care by committee is not likely to be successful, especially if all those trying to make decisions aren't educated on the subjects they are dealing with. No doubt all these family members have Father's well being at heart. They mean well.

But someone needs to be in charge, and treat Father as an individual. Let his own reactions guide you in deciding what is best for him.
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