Hospitalisation and decline in symptoms

Yadoca925

New member
Jan 21, 2024
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Hi,
This is my first time posting, just joined the forum. My mother in law (82) was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia last year. She has remained pretty much independent at home with one daily visit from a carer and a daily meal service. She was able to take care of her own washing and dressing. Also able to have a chat even if it was all a bit random and she’d often find conversations difficult to follow. Short term memory was really bad.

The reason I’m posting is to ask about sudden decline in symptoms/progression. Mum in law had a nasty fall on Wednesday, we think she fell down some stairs, she knocked herself out, had a cut and lump on her head, broke a rib and had some cuts that required stitches. She spent 24 hours in A&E while they assessed her, then they had to move her to a closed Covid ward because she has a positive swab test. Since then we’ve also been told they have discovered a bacterial lung infection and atrial fibrillation.

Updates in the last 2 days from the ward sister are that Mum in Law is refusing basic care, including some medications and food/drink, and is talking constantly with imaginary people. She has had IV antibiotics for 3 days now. She is also unaware of where she is or why. This is a significant change in her cognitive abilities. None of the medical staff have mentioned delirium, but have asked us if this behaviour is different to how she usually is. They have also said they are putting in place Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

We just aren’t sure whether this is likely to be a permanent decline in her dementia. Has anyone else been in the situation where a family member with dementia has had a sudden and significant decline after an accident or illness? Or could this be temporary due to illness.
 

yoy

Registered User
Jun 19, 2022
293
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Yes it seems to be quite common, as is delirium. I often found my mum refusing food and drink when admitted to hospital because she thought they were poisoning her, and giving me all sorts of other stories which couldn't possibly be true (including a relative taking his posh car up in the lift for her to see) and being mor aggitated than usual.
She has usually improved when discharged - but not necessarily fully back to where she was.
Probably only time will tell how far your MIL will improve.
 

SAP

Registered User
Feb 18, 2017
1,483
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My goodness your poor MIL she has been in the wars. And what a big shock for you as well.
It is not unusual for a person with dementia to take a down turn as a result of any one of those things , infections being a common reason for a change in ability. Being in a new place, probably in pain and not in the best of health will have impacted on your MIL greatly. Unfortunately with dementia it’s hard to say whether she will get back to where she was or not only time will tell. Fortunately she is in the right place to get her physical needs and once this has progressed she may pick up a bit.
 

Spottydog

Registered User
Dec 8, 2023
136
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Yes definitely sounds like hospital induced delerium to me. She is totally confused by her surroundings and what is happening to her. My father had it and I had to come and remove him from hospital into my care... He continued strange behaviour once in his home then slowly bounced back over a few days but sadly not as good as before. Also if she is not drinking as much that might be contributing.
 

Yadoca925

New member
Jan 21, 2024
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Thank you for the responses. It is so difficult to understand what is happening because we’re not allowed to visit. I think that we are most worried that this will be an established change in her, I guess that we’ll possibly know more when she is moved from the closed covid ward to a general one.
 

Angel55

Registered User
Oct 23, 2023
181
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Hello ❤️

My own experiences led me to think that hospitals and changes in routine/surroundings have a huge impact of PWD. Dad went in for an elective test and was in hospital for three weeks in the end as he literally went off his legs. He also had toileting accidents and became quite nasty at times, was moved wards a few times but described as pleasantly confused. He also had another stay with pneumonia and we were not allowed to visit then. He never quite bounced back as he was before from either stay. I hope things improve for you once you can visit and see/speak to staff in person.
 

leny connery

Registered User
Nov 13, 2022
414
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ah yes hospital stays. while taking care of the physical problems, it does seem to take a toll on the mental health problem. Mine was recently hospitalised for 12 days because of flu and severe chest infection. he was put in isolation because he was infectious. I could then stay 4 hours in the mornings and 4 hrs in the evenings to help him with his utter confusion about where he was, the catheter etc. when he was off the infectious list and put in a ward with 5 other people, I asked to take him home, as I worried about catching some other infection. I was also only allowed to visit during visiting hours. So,end of the story is this, yes he deteriorated some. but a week on at home he is almost , not quite, back to normal. (his normal). in my experience as a carer, hospital stay almost always results in deterioration in the elderly and dementia sufferer.
 

Duggies-girl

Registered User
Sep 6, 2017
3,650
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Yes, same with dad, 3 week hospital stay initially with pneumonia. Was fine on admittance apart from being unable to stand. The next day he had delirium and I was the devil herself. He had 3 falls each of which meant that he was sent back to A&E for assessment before being admitted to a different ward. A heart attack and a stroke later he was well enough to go home.

Before this he was mudding along nicely with help from me but when he returned home (in a wheelchair) I had to move in with him 24/7 because he no longer recognised his own home and was not capable of finding the fridge let alone making a cup of tea. He did improve greatly and we got him mobile again with a bit of perseverance and some bullying (according to dad) but he never got back to his previous capabilities. He did keep his quick wit and sense of humour but he could not live on his own anymore.

When he was in hospital I visited twice a day everyday to check on him. Funny thing was when we bought him home, we got him in his chair, I made him a nice drink and said 'I bet your glad you are home' and he said 'I haven't been anywhere' He had forgotten the whole episode immediately. Unfortunately the whole experience is ingrained in my memory as 3 weeks of hell.
 

Angel55

Registered User
Oct 23, 2023
181
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Yes, same with dad, 3 week hospital stay initially with pneumonia. Was fine on admittance apart from being unable to stand. The next day he had delirium and I was the devil herself. He had 3 falls each of which meant that he was sent back to A&E for assessment before being admitted to a different ward. A heart attack and a stroke later he was well enough to go home.

Before this he was mudding along nicely with help from me but when he returned home (in a wheelchair) I had to move in with him 24/7 because he no longer recognised his own home and was not capable of finding the fridge let alone making a cup of tea. He did improve greatly and we got him mobile again with a bit of perseverance and some bullying (according to dad) but he never got back to his previous capabilities. He did keep his quick wit and sense of humour but he could not live on his own anymore.

When he was in hospital I visited twice a day everyday to check on him. Funny thing was when we bought him home, we got him in his chair, I made him a nice drink and said 'I bet your glad you are home' and he said 'I haven't been anywhere' He had forgotten the whole episode immediately. Unfortunately the whole experience is ingrained in my memory as 3 weeks of hell.
Bless you ❤️ My Dad is the same he cannot recall anything about that time which is fortunate for him although it is ingrained in our memory.
 

leny connery

Registered User
Nov 13, 2022
414
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my husband thinks he was on a plane, on holiday meeting many interesting people and now totally forgotten all of it. 12 days of me in and out twice a day to keep him calm and provide company and some care... all erased from memory. I suppose there is something good in forgetting
 

yoy

Registered User
Jun 19, 2022
293
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Thank you for the responses. It is so difficult to understand what is happening because we’re not allowed to visit. I think that we are most worried that this will be an established change in her, I guess that we’ll possibly know more when she is moved from the closed covid ward to a general one.
Just another thought - mum's GP once said it can take anything up to six months for some people to recover from delirium, so it make take a while to be able to tell delirium from a progression of dementia. Fingers crossed for a speedier recovery than that though 🤞