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.
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.
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“.
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 Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.
Behavioral & Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD)
Many people think of dementia impacting cognitive impairment, like memory loss and attention, but dementia is not just memory loss. However, there are behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) that occur in about 90 percent of dementia patients. Moreover, these non-cognitive symptoms are equally important to the syndrome with respect to function and cognition.
BPSD symptoms can be very distressing for the person with dementia, their family and caretakers.
Some examples of these symptoms include:
- Mood Disorders (aggression, depression, anxiety, and apathy)
- Psychotic Episodes (delusions and hallucinations)
- Abnormal Motor Behaviors (pacing, wandering, repetitive vocalization)
- Inappropriate Behavior (agitation, disinhibition, screaming and elation).
- Sleep and Appetite Changes
Implications of BPSD Symptoms
Symptoms of BPSD are significantly concerning because they put patients at higher risk for institutionalization, greater functional decline, and domestic abuse. Until now, the preferred method for managing BPSD has been to prescribe medication. However, that adds to the already hefty arsenal of drugs currently taken by most senior citizens and adds to the potential for dangerous side effects. Fortunately, there may just be a better way.
Non-Pharmacological Treatments for BPSD
It is important to realize that there are many non-pharmacological treatments that may be helpful. Furthermore, there is evidence that supports using these approaches despite the existence of inconsistent clinical research.
Notably, some examples of these treatments are:
- Sensory Stimulation
- Environmental Modification
- Behavioral Therapy
- Cognitive/Emotion-Oriented Approaches
- Social Contact (real or simulated)
- Caregiver Training/Development
- Structured Activities
- Clinically-Oriented Approaches
- Individualized/Person-Centered Care
- Clinical Decision Support Approaches
For further information, click this link for the Nursing Home Toolkit Non-Pharmacological Approaches to Address Behaviors detailing the most up to date non-pharmacologic approaches for treating BPSD.
Also, take a look at:
Review of Non-pharmacologic Approaches for Treating Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Distress
Efficacious and Feasible Non-pharmacological Approaches for Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Distress
With so much new research, we owe it to our elderly dementia to consider medication as a measure of last resort.
For more information and assistance with treating dementia patients contact David York Agency at 718-376-7755. Also, visit our website at http://davidyorkhomehealthcare.com/.