Coping With Dementia
Dementia is the loss of cognitive abilities, which can include memory, speech, use of limbs, ability to make judgments and other symptoms. It’s estimated that 1 in 8 adults over 65 have some symptoms of dementia, with about 70% of those cases resulting from Alzheimer’s disease.
A Proactive Approach
Almost half of all patients in nursing homes have some level of dementia. About 10% of patients in hospice care have a primary diagnosis of dementia, and the number is growing. There is currently no medication to completely treat or cure dementia, but nearly all people with dementia can benefit from some form of therapy. We help our patients make sensory connections, like listening to music or sounds from nature, being touched or massaged, or participating in activities they enjoyed previously. It’s been shown that these techniques can soothe patients with dementia, making them less agitated and more receptive to care.
One of our unique programs is our Rummage Bags. Many of our patients have some form of dementia, which can cause a behavior called "rummaging". The person with dementia is not sure what they are looking for, but know they are looking for something. Each Rummage Bag has common household items like keys, pictures and books. When the person is 'rummaging', they can often find the item in the Rummage Bag. Rummage Bags can help relieve stress and agitation for those with dementia.
PARO Therapeutic Robots
Another innovative technique we use is the PARO robot. PARO is a mechanical baby seal with antibacterial fur and a host of sophisticated technology inside. PARO has sensors to recognize light, sound, touch and temperature, and can be used as a safe, clean alternative to pet therapy. PARO is a great tool to use with various forms of dementia or depression. PARO robot visits are conducted in accordance with the patient's plan of care to improve their quality of life.
See PARO in action on our YouTube page.
Members of our staff have been trained as Dementia Specialists. The voluntary training takes place over several weeks and emphasizes the importance of paying close attention to the patient’s personality to find better ways to care for them. Our Dementia Specialists understand how to adapt their care to each patient’s precise needs. Dementia Specialists are able to pick up on subtle clues that can make all the difference to the patient.