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Adj Asst Prof Lim Si Ching, Senior Consultant, Department of Geriatric Medicine, Changi General Hospital (CGH), a member of the SingHealth group shares what can take place when a dementia patient is admitted to hospital.

The elderly with dementia have compromised brain function (diminished brain reserve). When they get sick, their brain is no longer able to cope with the stress and they frequently develop delirium.

When elderly dementia patients are admitted to hospital, the new changes in their surroundings, unfamiliar staff and changes to their daily routine often make them restless, frightened and agitated. The risk of falls is high because they are unable to ask for help when they need to go to the toilet. When they are too restless and agitated, they may be restrained to reduce their risk of falling, which is undesirable over a long period because being restrained can cause them to be even more restless and confused. The enforced immobility causes problems such as constipation, urine retention infection, and pneumonia.

Therefore, a balance must be found between restricting their movement against their risk of falling, and finding ways to orientate them, walking them to the toilet regularly and ensuring they get adequate sleep in the night and enough fluid and nutrient intake.

Learn the difference between dementia and delirium.

Learn how dementia symptoms can affect behaviour.

Ref: O17