Ask the Continuing Care Expert – Renee White
Caring for your loved one: Dementia Care
Dementia is a frightening diagnosis for both the individual and their family. The progression of dementia is a varied and often complicated journey. Knowing where to go for information, support and eventually finding the appropriate care can be a daunting task.
The Alzheimer’s society is an excellent resource for individuals with dementia, their family and care givers.
As individuals become more confused it is crucial that they are in an environment where they are safe, have the appropriate support, and care. This is not always achieved in the individuals own home. Conditions such as paranoia (which is often associated with dementia) can create excess anxiety and refusal of care when caregivers come and go in the individuals own home. The dementia person becomes territorial and often will not let the care giver enter the home. Moving a person with dementia into a facility that specializes in dementia care can help to reduce the paranoia. Facilities with the appropriate staff to client ratio and consistent staff, provide an environment that makes the individual feel safe, which in turn builds trust.
The staff/client ratio is crucial in dementia care. Individuals with dementia need extra time to process information. Facilities that are under staffed and those that are task oriented cannot provide the optimum care. If staff have time to provide the care at a pace that the client can manage, it reduces the client’s anxiety and therefore reduces the incidents of resistance to the care. In time the trust that is built between staff and client increases the client’s quality of life, as their physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met.
The family of individuals with dementia also need ongoing support. Small specialized facilities with consistent staffing may be better able to provide families with the support they need. Families can rely on the experience of the staff to help guide them through the many challenges of having a loved one with dementia.