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Challenges for people with dementia and accompanying persons in the acute hospital

Here, we examine how hospital environments impact the quality of life of people living with dementia
Hospital impact on people with dementia

For many patients the hospital is challenging due to the busy, unfamiliar, and stressful nature of the environment.

For a person living with dementia the hospital experience can be exacerbated by cognitive impairment and behavioural or psychological symptoms, and can therefore prove to be a frightening, distressing, and disorientating place due to:

  • Constant movement, activity and clinical nature of the setting.
  • Sensory overload such as sound and lighting.
  • Lack of familiarity.
  • Disorientation and difficulties in wayfinding due to the large-scale, complex and often visually monotonous nature of the hospital.

Hospitals typically lack supports for family members and carers accompanying the person living with dementia to the hospital. The role of family members and carers is an important one as they are a familiar and trusted person within the hospital. The physical environment should be designed to provide space and support for a family member or carer to, where appropriate and feasible, remain by the side of the person living with dementia throughout their admission and journey.

As a final note, in many instances the accompanying person, particularly if this is a partner or a sibling, may also be an older person with age-related difficulties.

This article is from the free online

Dementia Inclusive Hospitals from a Universal Design Approach

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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