Caring for Dementia Patients and Preventing Decline

Dementia is more than a disease. Rather, dementia is compiled of a series of symptoms that signal a decline in mental and cognitive health. Caring for dementia patients takes compassion, patience, and, above all, understanding. Let’s delve into the roots of dementia as well as how to care for dementia patients and help them prevent further decline.

Dementia and Occupational Therapy - Home caregiver and senior adult woman

About Dementia

The main result of dementia is brain cell death which is caused by several symptoms and diseases. Dementia results in a state of general mental difficulty. Patients who suffer from dementia commonly find it difficult to accomplish daily activities without help, making them candidates for assisted living.

Dementia is incurable. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common and devastating forms of dementia. However, some prescription drugs can help alleviate and improve symptoms, temporarily. There are also some non-drug approaches that have been used to treat Alzheimer’s. These “therapies” can be useful in controlling the patient’s behavioral and physical symptoms.

 

Caring for Dementia Patients

If you find yourself taking care of a person with dementia, there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Remember to set a positive mood
  • Make sure to get the patient’s attention to avoid startling them
  • Ask questions that are clear and easy to answer
  • Learn how to distract from or change subjects in order to keep the patient from emotionally troubling topics

If your loved one is suffering from dementia, the best thing you can offer is your company and positive energy. When caring for dementia patients, communication through body language and tone of voice is of high value. For example, adopting a calm, pleasant tone while speaking simply and clearly can help them remain at ease.

 

Preventing Dementia & Decline

Some of the best ways to avoid dementia include:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Keeping your body and mind active
  • No smoking
  • Checking up with your doctor to make sure everything is functioning properly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

 

David York Agency’s Professionals Can Help

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Tips for Traveling with Dementia

traveling with dementia

Traveling, like other changes in routine, can be highly stressful for a senior with dementia. However, if your parent is in the early stages of dementia, an enjoyable getaway might still be possible. Here’s what you need to know about traveling with dementia.

 

Planning for Your Trip

  • Be sure to bring copies of important documents with you. Both you and your elderly loved one should have a copy of their identification. Similarly, you both should carry copies of doctor’s contact information, medication list, insurance information, and food and drug allergies.

 

  • Prepare your hosts. If you’ll be staying with family or friends, let them know of any changes that have occurred since the last time they saw your senior. Tell them how they can help you during your stay and how they can put their guest at ease. If you’ll be staying at a hotel, speak to the staff about any needs you might have. Inform them privately about your senior’s condition and ask them to let you know if they see him or her walking around without you.

 

  • Consider bringing someone else with you. Your elderly loved one will likely require a fair amount of attention and care. Bringing another person can help ease the stress and let you concentrate on other details of the trip.

 

  • Be patient, adaptable, and realistic. Things won’t go perfectly. Remembering that will help you to be less frustrated when problems do arise.

 

  • Have fun! While traveling with a loved one with dementia comes with its complications, it doesn’t mean you and your family can’t enjoy the trip and relish the quality time together.

 

If you come to the conclusion that your loved one is simply unable to travel, have you thought about getting a healthcare professional to care for them while you’re away? Please contact us today for information about our home healthcare services.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

A Toolkit for Promoting Positive Behavior in Dementia Patients

Toolkit for dealing with dementia

High Risk of Institutionalization

About 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s Disease and 90% of those are abusive.  This is important because this situation puts these patients at higher risk for institutionalization, greater functional decline, and domestic abuse.  Up to this point, the preferred method for managing the Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) has been to prescribe medication to control it.  However, this adds to the already hefty arsenal of drugs currently taken by most senior citizens. Obviously, we should not enter into this lightly since they are often accompanied by significant and dangerous side effects.  Clearly, we need better mechanisms for handling these dementia patients.

Toolkit with Best Practices

An article in January/February 2014 issue of Geriatric Nursing entitled “Promoting Positive Behavioral Health:  A Non-Pharmacological Toolkit for Senior Living Communities” unearths a great find:  a toolkit which was peer reviewed and endorsed by experts and designed to centralize the most up to date best practices for handling these challenging situations.  A team of clinicians assembled data on how to deal with BPSD. They went beyond the parameters of the antipsychotic medications normally prescribed.

The goal is for these methods to be the first course of action in treating dementia.  The toolkit can be accessed at http://www.nursinghometoolkit.com/ and you can navigate through the tabs on top and get to an area of interest.  Searching through the site will yield a plethora of information including non-pharmacological approaches to dealing with dementia.

A helpful graph of approaches can be found in a document entitled “Review of Non-pharmacological Approaches for Treating Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia“.

Additional Approaches

This effort meshes with a program which began in March 2012 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the “Initiative to Improve Behavioral Health and Reduce Antipsychotic Use in Nursing Homes” where it partnered with associations such as the American Medical Directors Association (AMDA)  for a comprehensive approach for limiting the use of dementia controlling medications in this population as part of their overall “Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes”. Please click on these links to explore their work.

As with everything, we need to be advocates for our loved ones. Take time to investigate the latest best practices for dementia patients. This can yield a better quality of life for both the dementia patients. Consequently, those around them will benefit as well. We owe it to our seniors and their loved ones/caregivers to explore any adjunct or replacement treatments. As always, the end goal is to alleviate the often devastating symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  This handy tool is worth a look.

David York Agency

Every nurse and administrator on our team reflects our agency’s 33 years of experienced care. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, please contact us at 718.376.7755. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Memory Clubs Offer Benefits to Dementia Patients

Memory Clubs for Dementia

More and more, dementia patients are being encouraged to join Memory Clubs, a popular and successful form of Reminiscence Therapy.  This therapy involves clubs or social groups forming around shared and intense interests in which participants may discuss their opinions, experiences and feelings.  The focus of these groups could be sports like baseball and soccer or hobbies like gardening or art.  Participants get to focus on topics in which they are knowledgeable and passionate, giving them an enjoyable social activity.

Reminiscence Therapy

Memory-Clubs for elder caregiving

Reminiscence Therapy is a therapy that focuses on reflection and not simply recall.  Discussions are different from that which would typically occur in casual conversation. Reminiscence therapy may use prompts such as photographs, music, personal recordings or familiar items from the past to encourage discussion of earlier memories.  So, the demand cognitively is deeper and discussions are more meaningful to the participant.

For the elderly who suffer from dementia, Memory Clubs, as a pathway for Reminiscence Therapy, is beneficial to improving cognitive function and quality of life.  Dementia is a broad term used to describe a condition of declined mental ability that interferes with daily life.  Often, we think of it as memory loss affecting our elderly population.  While there is no cure for dementia, there are some treatments that have proven helpful.

Cognitive & Social Benefits for Dementia Patients

Participants in these Memory Clubs report both cognitive and social benefits.  Furthermore, they show improvement in memory and language abilities.  Moreover, they seem to have a stronger sense of self and improved positive mood, thereby improving their social situation.  And, this is all provided by an enjoyable social activity at a time when opportunities for meaningful socialization decline, often leaving our elderly with feelings of isolation.  Overall, Memory Clubs are a very low budget and a potentially beneficial way to treat and enrich the lives of our elderly dementia population.

In 2013, the St. Louis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association formed the Cardinals Reminiscence League.  This group meets twice monthly for discussions, field trips, guest speakers and baseball related movie viewings.  And, because there is minimal training required for volunteers, there are many opportunities for family members to volunteer and share in the lives of their aging loved ones.

Find A Memory Club In Your Area

If you would like to find a Memory Club in your area, consult the resources below:
Or, it is easy to start one yourself.

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We at David York Agency are acquainted with this exciting approach to dementia. Furthermore, we are always available to set up a senior care plan taking the whole patient into account. We are ultra sensitive to the state of mind of our elderly patients and are committed to treating them with the respect and understanding that their years have earned them.  Please call us at (718) 376-7755 with any questions or visit our website at www.davidyorkagency.com to schedule a free consultation.