Tips and advice from health care professionals and volunteers

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Health care professionals and volunteers share experiences, observations and tips relevant for family caregivers. These may be useful for families handling difficult situations in care or having related concerns and thus empower families in their care.

The dementia diagnosis process: a four-part interview with Dr Sudhir Kumar .

A proper diagnosis is essential to know if someone has dementia, and then to start planning the care for the person. But families are often unsure how to prepare for the doctor visit, what the doctor may ask, and what will happen during the visit. To help, families understand and handle the diagnosis process, we have a four-part series on the diagnosis process with Dr CT Sudhir Kumar, a Consultant Psychiatrist with several years of experience in dementia and elderly mental health services in the UK and India. In this series, he explains the diagnosis process and gives practical suggestions for families to prepare for and handle the diagnosis process effectively.

The interview series starts with a discussion of some basics of how families can start the process of selecting a doctor and preparing for a visit in Part 1. Some important terms related to dementia are also discussed. Part 2 then goes into details of how families can prepare for their meeting with the doctor, such as the type of symptoms and other information to tell the doctor about and preparing the medical history file for the doctor. Part 3 focuses on the doctor visit, such as how to explain the situation, and what sort of things the doctor may ask during the visit, and about tests, scans, etc. And in the concluding part, Part 4, we focus on getting clarity on the diagnosis and any prescribed medicines, getting some important information for ongoing treatment and care. There are also some tips on handling review appointments. Read the interviews here:

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Home care for late stage dementia, information and practical suggestions, a six part series with Dr Soumya Hegde.

Persons in late-stage dementia are almost totally dependent, confined to a wheel chair or a bed, and have serious memory problems and physical complications. In India, care for persons in this stage is usually done by family caregivers, and can be very challenging. Dr. Soumya Hegde is a Bangalore-based Consultant Geriatric Psychiatrist, with extensive experience in supporting people with dementia and their families through all stages. We present a six-part series of interviews where she discusses various aspects of home care for advanced dementia, and provides useful information and several practical suggestions.

The interview series begins with a discussion on how to organize the home and prepare for smoother care for someone with advanced dementia. We then discuss how to get medical advice and support for a late-stage person, in spite of their reduced mobility, etc. Special topics of daily care are then discussed, many of them related to areas often forgotten, such as skin care, bruises, bed sores, constipation, catheters, dental care, etc. Part 5 discusses a major concern area for late-stage care: when the person starts having swallowing and eating problems, and doesn’t seem to be taking in enough food. The interview looks at possible reasons. And finally, we discuss the very difficult decision: tube feeding. Dr. Hegde explains the options, the pros and cons of each, and gives some suggestions on what families can look at while making the decisions, and how the person phases out. Read them here:

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Use “Active Ageing” to age better and reduce dementia risk: a two-part interview with Ramani Sundaram, a neuroscience research scientist.

It is common for people to worry about how their physical and mental abilities will reduce as they grow old. Dementia caregivers also worry about their risk of getting dementia. We have a two-part series to discuss what can be done to reduce the chance of problems. In these, Ramani Sundaram, a neuroscience research scientist working at Nightingales Medical Trust, describes the “Active Ageing” program at the Nightingales Trust Bagchi Centre for Active Ageing (Bangalore), a holistic program that aims to bring lifestyle modification and ensure health and happiness of the elderly, thus making ageing a positive experience. The program focus is on minimizing the risk of dementia, controlling hypertension, diabetes, and depression, and preventing falls.

This interview series shares information and suggestions for persons interested in ageing well. In part 1, we talked about the program and its context and objectives, how participants are assessed before they join, and also listed the three components of the program (physical activity, mental stimulation, and socialization). The first component, physical activity, was discussed. In Part 2, we discuss the mental and social components of the program and talk about how persons who can’t leave home (like many caregivers) can adapt and use these. We also talked about the use of the program for persons mild cognitive impairment or early dementia. Read the interviews here:

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Keeping persons with dementia peaceful and improving their quality of life: practical tips from a nurse.

Sheila is a registered nurse who has worked in Aged Care assisted living facilities (long-term stay homes for elders). She is currently working in an acute hospital which includes care for patients with dementia. She has interacted extensively with many dementia patients. In this interview, she shares tips based on her professional experience which can help family caregivers looking after patients at home. These include activities that can be used to keep patients busy. She talks of changes that can reduce the agitation and disorientation of patients. Simple techniques to keep patients busy, like using rummage boxes and fiddle mats, are described. Read the interview here: Keeping persons with dementia peaceful and improving their quality of life: practical tips from a nurse.

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A volunteer describes how to have activities and outings with dementia patients.

Dementia patients can enjoy outings to places they find interesting if the outings are planned well. Satish Srinivasan, a volunteer at a dementia day care centre, describes how he arranges such outings and how patients respond. Read the interview here: Taking patients for outings: a volunteer shares his experience.

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A social worker explains the working of a dementia day care centre.

Many of us have no idea of what care in a dementia care centre is like. In this interview, social worker Jincy Shiju describes how social workers at day care centres look after patients. She talks of the activities patients do. She describes the difficulties faced by the staff and how they are handled. Read the interview here: Care in a dementia day care centre: a social worker explains.

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Dementia Care Notes