Welcome to Memory Care Support’s
January 2017 newsletter!
Starting the Year by Asking the Right Questions
It can be confusing and difficult to know how to provide the best care environment for people living with dementia. Whether you are a family member looking for a place for your loved one to reside, or you are a professional working in the field of dementia care, it’s difficult to know where to start and what to do.
Sometimes tradition can be a burden to us and narrow our vision. “This is the way it’s always been done”… “We’ll keep them in this secured unit for their safety”… “We don’t want to overexcite them” “They don’t need much”…”We can manage their behaviors”...are some of the statements I hear from both families and professionals.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m living with dementia, I don’t really want my behaviors “managed”, I’d much rather you try to understand what I’m trying to tell you...
Living life is a continuum and we all change as we age. Try as we might to have healthy habits and live a fit life, none of us are the same at 50 as we were when we were 20, and none of us are the same at 70 or 80 as we were at 50. Life’s a continuum and because you have hypertension or arthritis or dementia, doesn’t mean you want to, or should, give up living a meaningful life.
What does a meaningful life mean for someone living with dementia? I have some friends who have been recently diagnosed with dementia. And as they point out to me, just because they have this diagnosis, doesn’t mean that suddenly they are incapable or don’t desire, to participate in decision making, or experience new situations, or enjoy a good laugh! They often hesitate to share their diagnosis, even with close friends, because they say they are treated differently.
Under the pretext of keeping someone “safe and comfortable”, it has been acceptable for a long time for dementia care programs to offer minimal choice and dignity. If there is a secure, locked door, that seems to be the main attribute of many dementia care units.
Fortunately, there are deep rumblings of change bubbling up from all over the country.
When you consider partnering with people living with dementia, asking the right questions can be the start to great change…
- What would make a difference in the quality of their day?
- What do I need to know about that person in order to provide meaning for them?
- What is their “behavior” trying to tell me?
- What are their retained abilities?
- What is my own verbal and non-verbal communication saying to them?
- What would make their day?
Contrary to the traditional ideas and methods of caring for someone living with dementia, there’s a new culture focused on creating care environments that are normal, not institutional… focused on retained abilities, not losses… and focused on partnership that supports purpose and meaning.
It’s an exciting time in the field of dementia care. Change is in the air!
Have a great day!
If you work in Assisted Living or long-term care and want
to make your dementia care program even better,
or if you need assistance in planning care for a loved one,
E-mail or call me for a free consultation.
Anne Ellett, N.P., M.S.N.
AANC Certified Gerontological Nurse
Founder, Executive Director - Memory Care Support
Ph. 949 933-6201