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grandmother in state of sleepiness/unconsciousness

May 26, 2020
Our 88 year old grandmother has been in a state of sleepiness/unconsciousness from which she cannot wake up. She is currently being treated at a hospital. Has anyone else experienced this or can provide some insights?

She suffered from epilepsy 5 years ago. She was given 200 mg of dilantin per night and she recovered to a normal state. She was also at that time given a diagnosis of dementia/alzheimers in addition to the epilepsy. For the next 5 years after the diagnosis she was relatively normal, she had no memory issues and she could walk and go to the bathroom on her own. About 1 month ago she started falling/lying down on the floor, she complained about confusion. We put her on her bed and she has never been able to get off her bed since that point. Her condition has rapidly deteriorated from that point onwards. About 2 weeks ago her doctor also increased her dilantin to 300 mg a day but that has not helped.

She went from being normal to being confused and then being in a constant state of sleepiness over a period of 4 weeks. It got to a point where a week ago we had to call emergency and they took her to the hospital. The doctor's there determined she had very low sodium (113) an UTI infection in addition to her diagnosis of dementia.

However even as her sodium has gone up (today it is 126) and her UTI is being treated as well as minor nuemonia in her lungs which they have treated with antibiotics, she has not awoken or returned to any normal. For the past 8 days she has been in a state of sleepiness where she is not able to awake from or speak anything. When the nurses move her to clean her she sometimes opens her eyes very briefly; if she is pinched, she somewhat winces, but not much other signs of consciousness.

It has been 7 days since the doctor's began treating her in the hospital. We are wondering what is going on with her? Do you know why has there been such a rapid decline? Will she be able to awaken from this state? They now have her on a feeding tube but she is able to breathe on her own. All her physical vitals are fine. Can anyone provide some guidance? Thank you for all your help.


Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
South coast
Hello @grandmother_w/dementia and welcome to DTP, although I am sorry to hear about your grandmother.

Have the family been able to talk to the doctors, or are you only getting updates from the ward? I think that the POA holder/next of kin needs a very frank and open discussion with the consultant. Perhaps they might be able to book an appointment to get to talk to him - probably over the phone - and ask all the questions that you want to know about.


Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
hello @grandmother_w/dementia
a warm welcome from me too
such a worrying situation for you all
Sadly there can be major changes in condition, especially if an infection of some kind is present, possibly because it takes so much energy to fight the infection

Sometimes staff hold back from discussions with family, waiting for a signal that the family are ready to talk, as some don't wish to
So I agree, make it clear that you want a no holds barred conversation with the consultant as you are concerned and would like to know what they think

Best wishes for you and your grandmother