A Toolkit for Promoting Positive Behavior in Dementia Patients

Toolkit for dealing with dementia

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, adding to the already hefty arsenal of drugs currently taken by most senior citizens is not to be entered into lightly since they are often accompanied by significant and dangerous side effects.  Clearly, we need better mechanisms for handling these patients.

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 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“.

This 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”.

We owe it to our seniors and their loved one and caregivers to explore any adjunct or replacement treatments to alleviate the often devastating symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  This handy tool is worth a look.

 

Memory Clubs Offer Benefits to Dementia Patients

More and more, dementia patients are being encouraged to join Memory Clubs, a popular and successful form of Reminiscence Therapy.  These clubs or social groups are formed around shared and intense interests in which participants may discuss their opinions, experiences and feelings.  These groups could be focused on 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.

Memory-Clubs for elder caregivingReminiscence 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 been found to be helpful.

Participants in these Memory Clubs report both cognitive and social benefits.  They show improvement with memory and language abilities.  And socially, they report having a stronger sense of self and improved positive mood.  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 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.

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

David York Agency is acquainted with this exciting approach and is 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.