It is estimated that one out of every 10 male Americans will develop dementia if they live past the age of 55, and that figure jumps to 1 in 6 for women. In Hernando and elsewhere throughout the U.S., it becomes essential to have these individuals cared for by senior home care professionals who understand the needs of dementia patients. There is no doubt that the better trained a staff is, the better care they can provide for dementia patients. Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Staff Education Week is February 14-21, and that is just the motivation needed for home care providers to get their staff members up to speed with dementia education and training. Here are some ways that this extra training can be put to best use in dealing with dementia patients.
Providing respite to family members
Quite often, family members are obliged to provide most of the care for their senior loved ones with dementia. This can be an exhausting prospect because it requires near-constant monitoring and oversight. As a result, family members can reach the point where they become burned out very quickly. There are both emotional pressures and physical pressures which constantly add to the stress that a caregiver must tolerate and overcome.
When there’s no one else to share the burden of care, children of senior dementia patients can come under extraordinary stress. Most of these individuals have family obligations of their own, as well as work requirements that they must satisfy as well. When you add all this up, it can become overwhelming for anyone, so professional home caregivers can really provide useful assistance. By delivering professional home care to dementia patients, they can relieve much of the burden from family caregivers, providing respite and an opportunity for downtime to recharge their batteries.
Response to disorientation
There are many times when a dementia patient will become somewhat disoriented and believe they are in another place or another time. Trying to properly reorient the patient can do a lot more harm than good, and it might even lead to an argument. At the very least, it will probably upset the patient unnecessarily. A trained professional will understand that in such cases it’s better to allow the patient to remain in that perceived reality rather than trying to reorient them to the actual situation. As long as the person is not in distress of any kind, it’s much easier and more agreeable to all concerned, if they are simply allowed to continue on in the state of reality as they see it.
Supporting clients in challenging situations
It can be a tremendous benefit to dementia patients and their families to have caregivers who have been properly trained and can understand dementia. This will allow them to appreciate how a client can change over time, and how to engage and support the patient through all the various stages of dementia. Someone who has been educated about dealing with dementia will have gone through a number of different scenarios so they can learn how to handle all those different situations when they pop up.
It also makes the caregiver aware that any incidents of impoliteness or disagreeable behavior should not be taken personally by the caregiver but instead should be understood as a by-product of the disease overtaking them. This is another situation where it’s better to roll with the punches rather than attempt any kind of intervention where you set the patient straight. This wouldn’t do any good, and it certainly won’t change their behavior, so you’re much better off to understand where their behavior is coming from, and allow it to pass.
This is a term that some caregivers apply to situations where they’re obliged to ignore the truth of a situation, and simply go along with the understanding that a dementia patient has. One home caregiver was accused by her patient of stealing the patient’s bacon at breakfast time. Rather than trying to deny it or point out the reality of the situation, the caregiver simply apologized and offered to make more bacon for the patient. That approach completely resolved the situation without any further rancor, and it allowed for a peaceful atmosphere to develop for the rest of the day.
That might not have been the case if the caregiver took a contentious approach to responding, and wanted to insist on her innocence. Therapeutic fibbing is the practice of using ‘little white lies to prevent the onset of a crisis or some kind of contentious behavior on the part of a dementia patient. There is no harm done by these therapeutic fibs, and it allows for a much more harmonious household, and a much more settled dementia patient.
Any individual who is not trained in handling this kind of behavior from dementia patients probably wouldn’t be aware of these idiosyncrasies, and as a result, would probably have a much more difficult time managing the dementia patient.