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Hospital Alzheimer's wristband needed

Throughout the decade in which I cared for my father, who had Alzheimer's disease, he was hospitalized several times. Each and every stay was a complete nightmare. I could easily name several reasons for these trials but the one I would like to focus on here is this: it's impossible to simply look at someone and tell they have cognitive disabilities. Due to this fact, my father was regularly mistaken for "just another patient." This led to his being misunderstood, misplaced and often his own experience of being terrified.

Of course, I attempted to be ever vigilant at his side during those stays, knowing I had to be there to advocate for him. I did, however, have to leave for the occasional bathroom break or just for a breath of fresh air. As I recall, more often than not, I would come back to some kind of turmoil. Once, when I took a five-minute break, I returned to find a nurse towering over him, clipboard in hand, impatiently drilling him about his medical prescription history. He looked up at me with bewildered eyes, imploring me to rescue him. This poor man couldn't even tell her if he had taken pills even two minutes ago.

Needless to say I had lots of time to think about this while sitting in waiting rooms. Why not provide some kind of "signal" or "flag" so that the hospital staff knows a person has Alzheimer's? What about a wrist band? Since "purple" is already the designated color for Alzheimer's why not choose a bright shade, that preferably glows in the dark?

It's four years later and the time is now. My goal is to have a bill passed through the Florida Legislature stating that it is mandatory that patients who have been identified as suffering from Alzheimer's or other dementia related diseases, be immediately fitted with this designated wristband upon admittance to a hospital or medical facility of any kind. The bill would require that all medical staff be educated regarding this color and band and know how to act accordingly. If and when the patient is transported into a different department for testing, the nursing staff will be aware of his or her mental condition, as the band will vigilantly warn every hospital employee.

Writing a weekly column on caregiving for the memory-impaired in the Tampa Tribune and Hernando Today for many years now, I hear from caregivers globally on a daily basis. The horror stories I've heard of what these folk's loved ones have sustained during hospital admissions would make your skin crawl.

The bright side of this is that the cost of what I'm suggesting is minimal. Hospitals already have to order wristbands for all those admitted so why not purple? I believe it's a win, win situation.

Having been taken out of their daily routine, those suffering from memory impairment are already drenched in extra confusion during these hospital stays. I firmly believe this law would make their hospital admissions safer and less tormenting and give much needed aid and peace of mind to their families.

In a perfect world, we wouldn't need for the legislation to make this a law, every medical professional would make sure that those who are memory-impaired would be protected in the unknown environment of a hospital. Unfortunately, that's a different day and time. This band will bring awareness to even those in the heath field, and that's a good thing.

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