02 January 2008

The age gap

I'm currently on a normal night shift on a normal ward.* I've already been moved wards once because the ward next to us was busier than us and they needed the help.

I'm currently sat watching a patient in his 70s with severe Alzheimer's disease and a fiesty temperament. Sadly, he doesn't take too kindly to being told what to do, or even asked nicely. He swears, punches and falls regularly. Consequently I have been tasked with keeping an eye on him, which he doesn't seem to like.

I find it frustrating to work in an environment where I can be kicked and punched and have to take it (and believe me when I say, some older people can really hit quite hard), yet equally I can't imagine how difficult and confusing it must be for this gentleman to not have a clue where he is or what's going on, and be asked to do things by a woman young enough to be his grandchild.

Sometimes I find I have compassion when I least expect it. I suppose that's a good thing at least.

*by normal, I mean not MAU or A&E


Nurse Sandra May said...

I knew what you meant Merys! I find "normal" wards a bit boring these days and find myself longing for the old MAU days. Then I put myself back into reality and wonder what the hell i was thinking about!

Anonymous said...

My granddad was in a similar state of confusion before he died.

The sad part is all he wanted to do was go home and be with his wife. Instead he eventually died in the hospital ward surrounded by family.

It seems a lot of old folks tend to find their final resting place in hospital wards.

The truth is I would not want to die in a hospital ward, I'd like to be at home, climbing a mountain, swimming with sharks.. anything but a hospital ward. But what can be done?

Anonymous said...

If your job did not provide dementia-specific training, then for the sake of those in your care and yourself, please do so. All Alzheimer Association offices can help you with this. You can go on-line for information from your local chapter. Ask for assistance through training, materials, or just use the 24/7 free HELPLINE just to talk (800-272-3900.) Numerous printed materials are free. But, a request for financial assistance for training and other for-fee materials should be met with hardship assistance. The national website is www.alz.org. The site provide links to local chapters and has on-line educational material. Check out the interactive link to "The Brain." (We provide training that encompasses related dementias as well.)

Understanding what is at the root of the reality and behavior and ability of a PWA can actually be a stress reducer/reliever for you. The disease process disrupts every aspect of understanding and being. It's one of the most visible paradigm shifts in reality. And, because the disease is not static, the amount of disruption constantly changes, even as it progresses. It even varies in intensity and disability and pace of progression from individual to individual. We have a saying, "if you know one PWA, then you know only one PWA."

You, a drain on society - never! You're absolutely an unsung hero. It's entirely possible you'll never fully know the impact of the quiet gifts of your service to another human. But there are others around you who notice you and are thankful, even if they never express it. Best wishes for all your future endeavors and thank you. V.

The Little Medic said...

A moving post indeed. When I recently did a medical rotation, there were a number of wandering patients on the ward who had Alzheimers. They were often agressive and almost always confused.

One man used to come and sit next to me whenever I was filling in forms or whatever. He mumbled constantly but I could only make out the occasional word. He kept saying something about his wife, and he kept saying "help me". I could do little for him but I tried to talk to him as best I could.

I never want to get old, and I certainly don't want to die in hospital.

Well done