Doctor’s Visits & Hospital Stays

  • Schedule appointments for your loved one’s most alert, cooperative time of day, or when the office might be least crowded.
  • Alert staff ahead of time that your loved one has dementia. They might be able to help him or her stay comfortable.
  • Expect behavioral challenges. The change to a hospital environment often results in agitation or other difficult behavior.

Next Step

Learn what to look for in an adult day care or longer-term facility.

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Regular doctor’s visits are necessary, but they often present behavioral and other challenges. By preparing carefully in advance, you can make sure that each visit is as productive as possible. A written log of symptoms and events is often helpful to doctors.

People with dementia are often resistant to doctor and hospital visits. Don’t tell your loved one about the appointment until the day of the visit or a little while before you leave. With a positive but matter-of-fact tone, tell the person it’s time to go. Consider bringing along a friend so you can meet with the doctor alone while your friend watches your loved one.

Reminders of Home

During a hospital stay, a familiar blanket, article of clothing, or family photograph can give your loved one peace of mind.

During a hospital stay, the best thing you can do is remain calm and reassuring. Turn off the TV, intercom, and telephone ringer to reduce noise and distraction and create a more peaceful environment.

When working with staff, create a list of your loved one’s habits, difficult behaviors, and how you handle them, all of which will help them cope. Request that a copy be placed with the chart and at the nurse’s station. Identify who will do which tasks. You may continue to help your loved one with certain activities.

Most people with dementia manage better when a familiar face is by their side throughout the stay. Work out a schedule with friends or family members to ensure that you get enough rest yourself.

Next Step: Adult day care centers, nursing homes, and other care facilities can reduce caregiving stress and keep your loved one active.

Ask the Expert


Experts at the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America have the answers to your toughest Alzheimer’s and dementia questions.

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