Over a year ago, my mother’s dementia dramatically worsened after back to back illnesses. She developed a cold but recovered in about two weeks. A few days later, I found her extremely weak, confused, and short of breath. Thinking she may have pneumonia, I decided we needed to seek emergency attention through an ER evaluation. Much to my surprise, as I was helping her change clothes, I discovered she had horrible shingles across her back and chest.

The following week, she spent a few days in the hospital then went to a nearby rehab facility. During her time spent at the rehabilitation center, she could not safely be left alone. My sister and I took turns accompanying her overnight in the hospital to make sure she did not fall and injure herself. Once she relocated to rehab, we again were required to have someone monitor her around the clock for safety concerns. Her condition worsened as she became very disoriented, extremely weak, and had difficulty feeding herself or walking without assistance. Due to her increasing medical needs, I brought her home early from rehab as it was easier to care for her in her own home.

Before these illnesses, my mom had been able to live alone, although she had some help throughout the week to prepare meals, help with showers, and provide companionship. After becoming ill, she never returned to her baseline and required 24-hour around-the-clock supervision. Her short-term memory had worsened which made dressing, grooming, and bathing more challenging.

My mother had mild cognitive impairment prior to these illnesses but progressed to moderate impairment afterward. The illnesses she suffered from caused acute delirium which resulted in permanent worsening of her dementia.

This same story is replayed over and over in our hospitals and rehabs on a daily basis. An older person gets sick, has surgery, has a bad fall, or has a reaction to a medication, suddenly leaving the family struggling to determine how they are going to take care of mom or dad. The illness may seem minor, but the long-term consequences can lead to a significant change in the daily needs of a loved one. Severino Health Advisors offers comprehensive care management to guide families through the challenges of taking care of a family member that is struggling with dementia. We can help you locate in-home care, or provide options for personal care or long-term care homes. Call today for peace of mind.