Welcome to Memory Care Support’s
August 2016 newsletter!
Dementia Care Isn't What it Used to Be... And That's a good Thing!... Part 1
There is a powerful upwelling from around the country... really it's an international movement... to change how support and care is offered to those living with dementia. Cracks are appearing in the walls of those places that have been warehousing people in dreary, life-draining institutions.
There are several factors influencing the changes in dementia care:
- Everyone knows someone with dementia. Prominent people we know and recognize are stepping forward and disclosing their diagnosis, not hiding it from the public and with over 7 million people in the US living with some type of dementia, almost every family is affected.
- Medical science is making it possible to diagnose dementia in the very early stages. When I'm at a social gathering and identify that I'm a nurse practitioner specializing in geriatrics and dementia care, someone always introduces them self and tells me they have just been recently diagnosed. People used to say, "I wouldn't want to know," but now people are seeking out early diagnosis so they can participate in planning for their future.
- People who are affected by dementia want to be involved in decisions and influencing policies. "Nothing about me without me" is the mantra. "Don't talk about me as if I'm not here," and "I'm the same person I always was" are heard recurrently. People diagnosed with dementia are pushing the conversation forward and professionals are learning from them.
- Emphasis is on living with dementia. Living with purpose and meaning and relationships. Dementia is being considered a chronic condition and focus is switching from losses and inabilities to retained talents and skills. A great example is a poetry group I recently attended in a senior day-care center. Most of the participants were affected by dementia and the free-flow of ideas and rhymes and phrases made for laughter, a few tears and a completed poem that would be sent to the local newspaper for potential publication.
- It's becoming unacceptable to isolate people with dementia. Emphasis is on dementia-safe communities where people can be integrated into activities and events throughout the larger community. Alzheimer's Cafe's and Meet-ups for people newly diagnosed are happening across the country. And Senior Living communities are becoming more inclusive, designed to not sequester residents with dementia into a separate unit.
- The customer/consumer (the person affected by dementia and their family members) are becoming more knowledgeable and sophisticated. As they shop for choices for care, they are expecting something more than "safe and comfortable". One private client of mine went to visit a local Assisted Living community as a potential future resident for her husband who is affected by Alzheimer's disease. She came back discouraged saying that there was more emphasis on recliner chairs and big screen TV's than any programming to stimulate and sustain abilities. "My husband is not ready for a recliner chair, he still likes to be active and try new things," she said. Currently he volunteers at the local food pantry, attends a Men's support group and participates in a walking club. Those events add purpose and focus on his ability to contribute. Sadly, the Memory Care programs at the Assisted Living locations did not have anything comparable except a pre-printed "Activities Calendar" on the wall. It's time to change - The gauntlet has been thrown down - let's think outside the box and provide environments that offer purpose, choice and well-being...places where you and I would choose to live!
My next newsletter will be Part 2 about the changes that are happening in dementia care. Have a great day!
If you work in Assisted Living 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