Brain Change Model
NursePartners’ approach to Alzheimer’s and dementia care is based on The GEMS™: Brain Change Model created by Teepa Snow. NursePartners recognizes the Teepa’s Positive Approach™ to Care as an effective method to provide care for loved ones affected by dementia. This approach categorizes dementia stages with six different gemstones, defined by unique characteristics.
This approach to care serves as an effective method for understanding and meeting the needs of individuals affected by Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. To learn about all the GEM™ levels, explore here.
Other methods of dementia classification might use numbers or levels of severity to describe the progression of dementia. However, we at NursePartners speak in GEMTM levels. It is not enough to simply describe the stage of dementia, we need to emphasize how to connect with your loved one, wherever they are in the disease process.
During the holiday season, you may see changes in an older adult. This article series is meant to help you reconnect with them.
The first GEMTM level is Sapphire, the only level that describes the absence of dementia. This is included because we must remember to always investigate other possible causes for forgetfulness, confusion, poor concentration, personality changes, apathy, and inability to do everyday tasks.
Depression can share many of the same side effects as dementia. Older adults can feel isolated, especially during the winter months. They may struggle to fill their days with meaningful activity and social interaction. The Sapphire level is “a true blue” color for this reason.
Depression severity varies and may require pharmacological and psychotherapeutic intervention, but we can do little things to help our loved one, even if it is in conjunction with these other treatments. Even if we are pursuing other solutions simultaneously, the causes of depression are often complicated and persistent. It helps to make real and consistent changes to our daily life in order to combat the effects of depression.
Three Ways to Combat Depression
- Fill their world with meaningful activity
- If they do not have a schedule, make one. The schedule does not have to be arduous, but there should be a reason to get out of bed each morning, dressed, showered, and out in the world.
- Choose activities that are aligned with their interests and personality. Just because someone is an introvert, does not mean they cannot visit the craft store or volunteer at the local animal shelter.
- All activities should make the person feel loved and needed. When someone feels as a contributing member in society, mood generally improves.
- Involve them in the decision making. If they cannot decide, switch up your approach. Try presenting a few options versus proposing open-ended questions.
- Ask them to help you. Do you need help wrapping presents, meal prep, or picking up the kids from the bus stop? Request their assistance. This helps them feel needed while helping you get everything done.
- Don’t forget to schedule time for your visits! As you help build their schedule, do not be surprised if they become “too busy” for your visits.
- Start with moving more around the house and then take it outside, weather permitting.
- If your loved one benefited from a program designed by a physical therapist, continue those exercises even when the physical therapist sessions end. The adage “move it or lose it” applies here.
- Boost their Diet
- What are they eating? Sometimes vitamin deficiencies are the culprit. Try enriching their diet and involving them in the process. Start slowly, by adding a few new options each week.
- You can teach them how to use these new ingredients but bringing them a freshly baked meal instead might persuade them quicker. They may be surprised that eating well can also taste good.
Bring in an ally
You can enlist the help of professionals to kickstart a change in lifestyle. The advantage of working with a certified nursing assistant is that they can be your eyes and ears on the ground. While you are at work or with your family, they are helping mom or dad out of bed and into the world.
There are additional benefits you might not have expected:
- Constant and ongoing fall risk mitigation
- Light housekeeping
- Meal preparation and socialization
- Performing and assisting with personal care activities
- Home exercise program support
- Detailed family updates
- Familiarity and rapport
- Coordinate grocery purchases and deliveries
- Medication management
Older adults are not children. They have lived a life rich in experiences. It is unrealistic to think that one adult can take care of all the needs of another. Enlist help to optimize the results for both you and your loved one.
Want to talk more or schedule a wellness assessment?
Call us at 610-323-9800. Expect you call to be answered by a member of our administrative team, never a call center or third party. Mention this article and receive the wellness assessment completed by a registered nurse, free of charge.