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Communicating with people with hearing loss and dementia during the pandemic: personal account

02 October 2020
Volume 25 · Issue 10

Sean Maguire's medical records indicate that he is resistant to care. Sean is 87 years old; he has dementia and impaired hearing and vision. His lower legs are covered in wet malodourous dressings, and there is a pool of viscous fluid under his feet. It has been some time since he has agreed to have his dressings changed. As a nurse, my job is to remove his dressings and carry out an assessment of his legs. The plan is to wash his legs and if, as suspected, he has weeping venous eczema, his legs will need to be soaked in potassium permanganate. Thereafter, the legs will need to be redressed. The patient's co-operation will be required for this.

At first glance, Sean might appear cantankerous, uncooperative and difficult, but he is struggling to make sense of the world.

People with dementia have difficulty processing information and do best in familiar environments. Like all individuals, they react differently to illness and changes in circumstances, such as hospital admission, something that Sean required as he had been struggling at home. People with dementia are on a journey, and every person's journey is different. Some individuals find their confusion to be distressing and can become weepy, depressed and demotivated. Others, like Sean can refuse care and become upset and angry (Alzheimer's Society, 2020a; Lakhan, 2019).

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