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There is very big news out lately about senior citizens in the hospital experiencing an acute confusional state due to delirium. It's not necessarily new news, but it better explains old problems with new updates about it. It certainly explains the adverse way many of our senior parents can react when hospitalized. I really appreciated Seniors for Living giving us a heads up about this at their Facebook site. As members of the never-aging Baby Boomers Generation caring for elderly parents, this is vital information for us.
Being extremely proactive and knowing we may be dealing with this in the upcoming year (plus you never know when an emergency may hit – i.e. my 5th metatarsal fracture surprise!), I have been taking some steps to prepare for this situation, including:
1. I called the hospital to see what options they offer families of senior citizens. The last time my senior mom had to go into the hospital, they provided one patient per room along with a couch for a family member. I wasn't very comfy and I didn't sleep great but I could tell it really helped my senior mom's frame of mind plus it ensured she got water and other needs more quickly and easily. And, after reading this article, I think it could be a great way to help combat hospital delirium, if it's a viable option. Even if I can only do it some of the time, I know it will help. Different hospitals have different options, so it's vital to talk to them and to the patient's doctor. As I understand it (and I have NOT verified this – you will need to talk to the doctor AND Medicare for your individual needs), if your doctor orders a private room, Medicare may cover it. I, personally, would discuss this delirium issue with the doctor and see if he considers it a concern and thus, requests the private room.
2. I checked the hospital website to see if they provide free wi-fi for patients and visitors. Many hospitals (including ours – hooray) offer this option and it's a big blessing for those of us in the Sandwich Generation caring for elderly parents. Whether we are running a small business. working for a boss off-site while helping our parents, or just keeping minds and hands active while senior parents are snoozing in the hospital bed, it's definitely a useful tool! When my senior mom was last hospitalized, I used my laptop and their wi-fi to update my family on her status as well as researching things the doctor was telling me.
4. I'm praying – a lot – and will continue to do so, as well as planning to send updates and prayer requests to family and friends regularly with my AT&T iPhone.
How about you? Have you dealt with this problem when caring for the elderly parents and relatives in your family? Do you have any suggestions for the rest of us dealing with the Sandwich Generation issues, including for long distance caregivers. We'd love to hear them.