Worried about dads confusion in hospital

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Every time my dad who is 87 is hospitalised he becomes extremely confused, he is never confused at home. He has been admitted again and I explained to the staff about this and they looked at me blankly as though they had never heard of this before. Has anyone else experienced this? My mum and me are so upset by it, its as though he's not my dad.

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  • Posted

    It is fairly common for elderly patients in hospital to become acutely confused, it is often due to them being in a completly new and strange environment. Some patients in hospital are admitted due to an infection, infections commonly cause confusion in older people, urinary infections are very typical!!

    also, a new environment, lack of sleep as being on a noisy hospital ward, hypoxia (low oxygen level), some drugs, infection and fever are all common causes of confusion particualry in the elderly.

    I would suggest visiting him regularly, reminding him of where he is and why, reassure him and ensure he is comfortable, eating and drinking well and maybe taking in photos of family members, grandkids etc whilst he is an in patient.

    Acute confusion usually resolves, if the cause is identified and treated (eg. infections with antibiotics, good periods of rest etc!)

    Hope this helps

    Luke Richardson

    Advanced Nurse Practitioner

    Birmingham, UK

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  • Posted

    Thank you both so much for your replies. I really appreciate it.
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  • Posted

    Commonest reason for disorientation in hospital is - dehydration (this is also one of the reasons that many eldefly people suffer falls) .

    Take some bottles of water or any other liquids with a straw in that won't come out. Make sure your Father can reach them and make sure the staff understand why you are doing this.

    Elderly people need fliuds and regularly, I sometimes think that the water is deliberately not to hand because of frequent necessity for toilet.

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  • Posted

    The suggestion that water deliberately witheld from patients to prevent them needing the toilet is absolutely ridiculous. People need to drink and people need to wee........FACT. Water would never be witheld to stop them from needing the toilet, , ever!

    confusion caused from dehydration would have to be quite significant dehydration, likely causing an electrolyte imbalance to cause confusion.

    Luke richardson

    Senior nurse / Advanced Practitioner

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  • Posted

    Hi Chrissy Another reason for confusion in hospital in my opinion is lack of sleep. I had a heart attack and was in hospital in ICU or HDU (can't remember) for a week due to something splitting open when stents were put in. I am on Nitrazepam which I was taking but not sleeping and I went completely off my head, illucinating etc. This was the London Chest Hospital, the biggest "heart" hospital. yet they scared my son by phoning hhim as an emergency saying basically I had "lost it". I have sensitive hearing and the heart monitors beeping was driving me to distraction. I know they are necessary, but after I left hospital and researched it on Google I found this was quite a common effect with virtually no sleep for a week, plus the pain of laying on my back when I have a curvature of the spine (necessary for the treatment after stents fitted) so all in all, I was totally unimpressed with their attitude. One nurse shouted loudly, that "beeper" were a lovely sound! True, as it means critical patients are alive, but not suitable to shout at a half deranged patient!. 18 months later, those hallucinations are still as clear as day. I am 70 and also agree with Mrs.K.. Quite often I've been in hospital (quite severe COPD), unable to reach the water jug and the nurses have decided to ignore my call for help. Good job I had 2 sons to visit me and bring bottled water to keep handy. Another cause of confusion can be a urine infection, another possibility when laying in hospital if staff are too busy to escort to the lavatory. I know there are staff shortages in the NHS, but try and get information from a senior nurse as to how he is fairing on different levels.
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