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Confusion in elderly mother

(18 Posts)
Luckytwo Sun 17-Aug-14 23:11:27

My MIL has had an operation last week, with a general anaesthetic. She is now physically fit and healthy but is showing some signs of confusion. Not lost the plot totally or not knowing who we are, but silly things like thinking she works in the hospital where she's recuperating and wondering where the boss is it tell her what to do. (She seems to think it's the factory she used to work in). She just throws that into a normal conversation about the weather and how the grandchildren are doing (strange)
We have had a bereavement recently which she has struggled to cope with, and we're not sure whether this plus the operation is causing some temporary dementia or whether this is actual dementia.
Hospital have said she is not a danger to herself so will be discharged soon, but as she lives alone now we are concerned that this is the right thing to do.
She does not want to leave her family home to live with us.

Does anyone have advice ? Thanks for reading.

KingJoffreysBloodshotEye Sun 17-Aug-14 23:18:16

Have they ruled out dehydration and UTI?

Both cause confusion. Both common in hospital.

Cornflakesnmilk Sun 17-Aug-14 23:20:51

I would echo what King has said ie the UTI. It can sometimes display symptoms similar to a stroke in respect to the confusion, memory loss, speech being blurry etc.

Luckytwo Sun 17-Aug-14 23:22:51

Yes uti has been ruled out, she has no infections

Lindor Sun 17-Aug-14 23:28:01

when my elderly mother had knee surgery we were warned that general anaesthetic can cause psychotic episodes in elderly patients, but they will recover from it. While recovering she talked about our dog (we've never had one) and also had the thing of thinking she was at work.

Luckytwo Sun 17-Aug-14 23:33:10

Oh really, Lindor? I'm really pleased it hear it. I hope your mum got better ok

Luckytwo Sun 17-Aug-14 23:33:58

Also the hospital seem to be pretty clueless.

Madratlady Mon 18-Aug-14 00:03:22

Anaesthetics can really knock older people for six, and being in hospital away from familiar surroundings doesn't help.

As king said, is she drinking enough?

halfthewaytothemoon Mon 18-Aug-14 00:24:04

confusion in elderly patients not uncommon for various reasons. dementia is a progressive illness and the signs are there early on - forgetfulness, ridged behaviour unreasonable beliefs depressions or psychosis can all be signs, but build up over time rather than a sudden onset.
Post operative confusion can affect any age. Good to check for dehydration or infection. Hospitals will want to discharge as soon as a patient is no longer ill which is not the same as medically fit. Services such as Re-Enablement are there to support patients in their own homes. The services are free and last for 6 weeks.

My mum had vascular dementia but the symptoms came on gradually over a year or so. She did have a really confused month or so beforehand due to an unDXed UTI while in hospital for a different matter. They eventually gave her 3 days of antibiotics which helped a bit but weren't enough to cure the UTI. After another week she had 7 days of antibiotics which did the trick. She was quite odd in hospital, paranoid and thought she was in a hotel, that there was a dog in the room etc.

Oh yes, her UTI was symptomless (no fever or pain) except for the confusion.

Elderflowergranita Mon 18-Aug-14 00:53:26

Both of my elderly parents suffered from really marked confusion when they were hospitalised, and neither had general anaesthetics.

I was told by nursing staff that this is a common occurence. They totally recovered once they were at home.

Cailleach Mon 18-Aug-14 01:07:02

My grandmother (93) has had two operations in the last 5 years - one to repair a broken hip and the other to remove a huge gallstone.

On both occasions she displayed quite a lot of confusion for a few days after the anesthetic, thinking she was back in Ireland where she was born and talking about people long since dead coming to see her.

She recovered after a couple of weeks and is now as sharp as ever.

Hope your mum improves as quickly, OP.

AcrossthePond55 Mon 18-Aug-14 01:32:13

My mother's neurologist calls it 'hospital psychosis' & told us it wasn't terribly uncommon in the elderly. She was very confused and saying really crazy things during her last two stays. She didn't even know who I was at times. She thought she was 'in a church far away' and that she got there 'on a train' and was worried about how 'all those other people on the train were' and that she was 'NEVER getting on that train again!'.

Once she got home her symptoms cleared up rapidly, as the neurologist said they would. He feels it's a combination of age, trauma (surgery or whatever caused hospitalization), disturbance of routine, lack of good sleep, and strange surroundings.

We were lucky because my brother was living with Mum so he was able to keep an eye on her. I'd suggest, if possible, that someone stay with your MiL for a couple weeks after she is discharged to see how she is doing. Or suggest to her that she recuperate at your or another child's home.

MsMarvel Mon 18-Aug-14 01:33:50

My gran had this when she was in hospital, it was to do with the fact that shed been given oxygen, but her lungs previously had been functioning on a lot less than desired, so the sudden increase affected her mind.

Took a few days but she was eventually back to normal. Ha she received oxygen at all during her stay?

Luckytwo Mon 18-Aug-14 07:56:37

Thank you everyone. I suspect it is to do with the stress of the last few months then plus this hospital visit.
Doctore have said no uti present, she appears to be eating and drinking well, no oxygen.
She refuses to come and stay with us as she does not want to leave the family home -her son who died recently lived with her. We've had this conversation already, and we can't take any more time off work than we've had, she lives a 6 hour drive away.
We will see what today brings. She is supposed to be getting out if hospital. My oh is with her for the next 3 days.

BeckAndCall Mon 18-Aug-14 08:03:05

It's very common OP and will clear up - for my MIL it was called delirium and it comes out of nowhere - normal conversation about stuff then, bang, total nonsense - the nurse is a murderer, the TV cameras were here filming, they run a casino in the basement - really strange thoughts with nothing to trigger than as far as we can tell. She's had three separate bouts.

For her it is UTIs or chest infections but is also just the confusion of being in hospital. It does resolve itself once she is back in her regular environment.

Hope your MIL gets home soon.

Luckytwo Mon 18-Aug-14 08:35:15

Thank you beck.
I think that's why we were alarmed. The fact that most of the conversations are fine, she just threw in some weird stuff about why no-ones given her any job to do etc , seems to me a bit more of a MH issue than old age/dementia.
Hopefully if she gets out today we can see how she is once home.

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