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 where caring for patients with dementia is an everyday occurrence. She has interacted extensively with several dementia patients as part of her professional work. In this interview, she uses her professional experiences to share tips that can be used by family caregivers looking after persons with dementia in a home setting.
As someone who has been working with patients with dementia, you must have often encountered upset and agitated patients. Can you describe a couple of such experiences and how you and your colleagues resolved them?
In my experience, when persons with dementia are admitted to a hospital for an acute medical condition, it is not uncommon for them to occasionally become agitated. This also happens in “aged care” facilities, where patients have moved in for long-term assisted living care. Sometimes this agitation is related to simple things like the patient not being able to find the toilet. Sometimes they know that they are not at their usual place, and hence have a desire to leave.
..a woman with dementia may be living with her husband, but her mind is back in another time/in another house/ with her mum and dad. Persons with dementia don’t have the ability to reason that they are not children any more, and they do not know the difference between past and present, because the area in the brain that handles higher functioning has been damaged and lost
Also, such agitation can happen even to patients living at home, and such a desire to “go home” (even though they are already at home) may be related to their mind being in a different chronological time in their history. For example, a woman with dementia may be living with her husband, but her mind is back in another time/in another house/ with her mum and dad.
Read the full post here : Keeping persons with dementia peaceful and improving their quality of life: practical tips from a nurse
Satish Srinivasan volunteers two days a week at a dementia day care centre in Bangalore. As part of this, he coordinates activities for the patients and also takes them for outings.
Could you give us an idea of the locations you have visited along with the patient, and how the patients responded?
We have been to 13 places so far. Aquarium, Science Museum, Planetarium, Elders Enrichment Centre Malleswaram, Bimba Art Hut, Lal Bagh Flower Show, Ramakrishna Ashram, HAL Aerospace Museum, Bangalore Dairy, Lal Bagh, NCAA, Ragi Gudda Anjaneyana Temple, Durga Puja Pandal
In all cases, patients responded well and were enthusiastic. Some examples of their responses:
- When we went to the aquarium, one patient,who was normally not communicative, said she had an aquarium at home with similar fish!!
- There was a particular patient who used to ask me every time I came in as to where we were going today!!
- One client thanked me profusely after each visit
- One client wanted his picture (hard copy) which I gave him. Next time he gave me a 50 rupee note and said thanks (I had to politely return it to him)
- They loved the Lal Bagh flower show.
- They liked playing badminton and cricket and knew the basics.
What is the state of dementia of the patients you take for the outings? Are they able to walk without support? Are any of them on wheelchairs?
Read the full post here : Taking dementia patients for outings: a volunteer shares his experience
Persons with dementia enjoy some types of activities. They also like to do useful things.
What caregivers can do: Add fun-filled and creative activities to the person’s daily routine. Help them think of pleasant memories from the past. Add activities they consider useful (meaningful activities) to the day. Encourage them to enjoy what they can still do. Share relaxed and happy moments together.
If persons with dementia get suitable surroundings, they can lead productive and satisfying lives for many years after the diagnosis. They are happier and less likely to get angry or show worrying behavior. The caregivers are also less stressed and can enjoy the company of the person.
Read the full post here : Improve the quality of life of persons with dementia