Welcome to Memory Care Support’s
September 2016 newsletter!
Dementia Care Isn't What it Used to Be... And That's a Good Thing!... Part 2
Welcome! This month's newsletter is Part 2 on the changes happening in dementia care. Last month we talked about the reasons change is happening:
- People are seeking early diagnosis and want to be involved in decision making
- People living with dementia are not hiding in the shadows but coming out to talk about their experiences and are teaching professionals
- Standards for care are evolving -- "safe and comfortable" isn't enough
- Emphasis is on "living" with dementia
As people search for care options, they are hit with marketing campaigns from the full spectrum of services -- Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, Home Care -- all of which promise they are "experts in Alzheimer's care." But if you scratch beneath the surface, very few service providers can offer anything innovative or life-affirming. Often, the staff has not received even the most basic of training.
And investors in Senior Housing are looking at the demographics and recognize the need for more Memory Care as an opportunity to expand more services in their buildings. A recent newsletter by Senior Housing News highlighted the financial prospects of expanding into Memory Care, "Buildings without a memory care element especially should seize the opportunity."
While developers "seize" the opportunity to build more beds for Memory Care, we know that "if you keep doing what you've always done... you'll keep getting what you've always got" and traditional Memory Care is rapidly becoming outdated!
Some Senior Housing operators are partnering with experts who are thoughtfully looking into innovations that can change the culture and promote dignity and choice for their residents living with dementia.
So how is Dementia care changing?
- Culture change - instead of focusing on a person's deficits and losses, attention will be on their retained abilities. The day a person receives the diagnosis of dementia doesn't render that person incapable and dependent. Dementia will be considered a chronic illness to be lived with. People living with dementia have many abilities, talents and personal preferences-- they retain their individuality and innovative dementia care will support these retained strengths and abilities.
- Recognition that the bio-medical model does not support the well-being of people living with dementia. Many people living with dementia may have other health conditions that can respond to medication, but there isn't any medical treatment that can prevent the progression of dementia. Traditional medicine has failed people living with dementia, often exposing them to unnecessary treatments and medications, seldom advocating for them. The fragmented health care system results in unnecessary hospitalizations causing increased frailty and disorientation. Programs are looking to strengthen the social model, which recognizes retained talents and supports emotional and spiritual well-being to provide a life of purpose and dignity.
- Ending the use of unnecessary and harmful anti-psychotic medications to "manage behaviors." This class of medications has been used for decades, sedating people into docile dependents, taking away their spark for life. If a person living with dementia expresses something through a change of behavior, that is their attempt to communicate. Not understanding what they are trying to communicate, can lead to increased anxiety and agitation, for which the anti-psychotic medications are then prescribed, causing sedation, more serious health risks, and loss of dignity.
- More support for in-home care. 70% of people living with dementia remain in their own homes. New collaborative support systems are being developed that involve family members, nursing and social workers to support people living with dementia to remain in their own environment. The Healthy Aging Brain Center model from the University of Indiana has already shown some significant benefits such as a 50% decrease in hospitalizations.
- Communities will become dementia-friendly. Dementia care is not just a topic in the U.S., but world-wide, countries are looking at ways to reach out to people living with dementia and help them maintain their local communities. Australia and the U.K. are leaders in this movement that includes public recognition of the signs of dementia and learning to communicate in ways that support the people living with dementia to lead a more normal life.
In the U.S., the Wisconsin Healthy Brain Initiative (HBI) has partnered with local resources to help shift "our perceptions of dementia" and create dementia-friendly communities where "people living with dementia are supported to live a high-quality of life with meaning, purpose and value" throughout Wisconsin.
This is exciting concept that will provide meaning and dignity for people with dementia!
Have a great day!
If you work in Senior 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