Alzheimer`s Disease/after sugery care


My mom just came home after a two week hospital stay that started when she called an ambulance and received emergency sugery for a perforated ulcer.  Before her visit she was able to drive, shop, and participate in social activities.  During her visit she needed family to be there 24/7.  She was anxious at night before at home and it became much worse at the hospital.  She spent 4 nights in I. C. U.  and became much worse. She did not sleep, was having hallucinations, she did not know we're she was or who HER family was. Now that she is home she is still extremely confused.  Caring of her is difficult because she will not use the walker, or let us help her in the bathroom.  She has already fallen twice.  I am emotionally and physically exhausted. I am afraid and over my head.  SHE came home with two drains that it is very hard to get her to let me drain. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Hello Annette:  I'm very sorry to hear of your mom's sudden changes for the worse.  The question is whether or not her cognitive skills will return and her confusion go away.  She likely had what's known as ICU psychosis while in the hospital, but that almost always goes away once the person is released from the hospital.  She may still have a delirium that could take a few months to resolve.  That being said, the presence of infection from the ulcer, the pain meds, the surgery and the anesthesia all contribute to her mental decline.  She may or may not have already been working on some type of dementia before all this happened, and the stresses she's suffered recently just brought it out more.  There is a recent study that showed that the surgery itself, and not the anesthesia was to blame for "sudden" appearance of dementia.  But, the dementia was there all along, and just became apparent following the surgery.  Again, she may not have any type of dementia, but you need to get it figured out.  Your mother needs a professional work-up for dementia as soon as possible.  This would mean they are testing for many, many other things that can cause the symptoms that mimic dementia--many of which can be fixed.  My recommendation would be a geriatric psychiatrist, but you may not have access to one, so a neurologist and/or geriatrician would be able to help sort it out.  I also think she would benefit from being admitted to a facility such as a rehab facility while the work-up is being done so that she is safer from falls and can receive some therapy.  She may be much more willing to accept care from staff than she is from family. She would require very careful administration and monitoring of some medication to help calm her down while there, but yet allow her to still be able to walk and do therapy. The answers are there--it will just take some time and much effort to find them.  Meanwhile, she cannot make these decisions for herself, so be sure someone has a healthcare power of attorney, and enact it in order to get her the care she needs.  You and your family cannot adequately handle her needs right now, so the best thing for her would be to be in a facility--despite the fact that she had such an awful time in the ICU.  In my opinion, she requires, at the very least, brain scans, blood work, psychiatric/psychological testing, physical and occupational therapy and close monitoring for falls.  
I wish you much luck Annette as you struggle to find the care your mom needs right now.  I know it will not be easy, but you've already taken the first step by seeking information and direction.  My prayers are with you for successful resolution of her many issues.  Cindy  

Alzheimer`s Disease

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Cindy Keith, RN, BS, Certified Dementia Practitioner


As a nurse and dementia consultant, I can answer most questions on all types of dementia. If I cannot answer your question, I will attempt to find someone who can. My passion is to help caregivers of people with dementia, which in turn helps all those wonderful elders with dementia live better lives. When caregivers are better educated, they are able to better care for themselves and their loved ones, so education is key to decreased stress levels and healthier, happier families.


I have worked as a nurse in various disciplines of nursing for over 20 years, most of which was with the elderly. I was a health care coordinator in a dementia dedicated assisted living facility for 4 years before I started my own business (M.I.N.D. in Memory Care) as a dementia consultant six years ago. As a dementia consultant, I help families nationwide through phone conference calls as they struggle to care for their loved ones with dementia.

Alzheimer's Foundation of America Geriatric Interest Network Sigma Theta Tau International

Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem - Caregiver Survival Manual For Living With A Person With Dementia" which is a collection of stories about people with dementia I have known, loved and worked with. Every story has a lesson to teach and this book gently teaches family caregivers lessons about how to better care for their loved one, as well as themselves during their caregiving journey. Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem In Eldercare Facilities: The Master Key For Dementia Training" Created "Bringing Nurturing To Memory Care" staff dementia training video Created Ebook: "Hair Stylist's Helpful Tips For Working With People With Alzheimer's & Other Dementias"

Registered Nurse with Bachelor's degree in Nursing; Certified Dementia Practitioner; Author of 2 books and an ebook

Awards and Honors
Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Society of Nursing

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