We often think to put Easter baskets together for children. It can be exciting to hunt for eggs or to find a basket full of sweets. Children sift through the contents, sorting out favorite candies and toys. If you are lucky, they will clean up the plastic grass afterwards.
We can similarly engage older adults living with dementia, of any religious affiliation. As dementia progresses, certain senses are heightened. One of these is touch. During the “Amber” stage, those living with dementia have a tendency to touch surfaces. As eyesight and gait (walking ability) worsen, touching surfaces help orient the person.
Touch can also be reassuring. Holding their hand or feeling different textures can be a way to communicate as their traditional conversational skills worsen.
Consider putting together an activity box, or Easter basket, if applicable. Remember, this should be a fun activity so do not worry if the end result is not as imagined. You might even want to consider some music in the background.
The search can be limited to your own home. Find objects of varying sizes, textures, densities, and colors. Once you gather these all, ensure that none have sharp edges and are large enough not to be swallowed. Layer them into a basket or box.
Bring the basket or box to your loved one. Get them started by finding the first or second object.
Simple activities such as these add meaning to the lives of older adults living with dementia. They may remind them of Easter as a child, or simply serve as a task to make them feel loved and needed. Never underestimate how feeling loved and needed can improve their quality of life.
Some of the ideas behind the activity box were found from Crossroads Hospice. The suggestions about tactile simulation and the Amber stage of dementia can be learned about here.
Why work with a home care company that specializes in dementia care?
Most non-medical home care companies care for those living with dementia, but services are not equal among providers. There are over 80 types of known dementias and each present a unique set of challenges.
In addition, a client’s progression of dementia depends on their background, personality, and support system. No two clients are ever alike.
Even if a company develops a comprehensive plan of care that includes all of these components, they still need to ensure that the direct care team remains informed and is relatively stable. If either falter, so does the quality of care. Carepartners must remain in communication with one of our registered nurses or dementia coaches throughout the process. They communicate with one another through client care record sheets and a journal that symbolizes the development of their relationship with the client.
Carepartners undergo an educational seminar, role playing scenarios, and additional dementia training before ever assuming their first assignment with a client living with dementia. Additional training is provided for more challenging types of dementia.
NursePartners created the GEM division to care for those living with dementia. This is distinct from our traditional home care division. We put together a plan of care based on the client’s type of dementia, specific needs, background, personality, and support system. Each client is associated with a GEM stone, which indicates where they are in the progression of the disease.
At each stage, we alter our approaches for connecting and providing care. Verbal cues become less effective than visual and touch cues as the disease progresses. We also are aware of the client’s visual scope and in which directions it declines.
If you have questions about how your loved one could benefit from GEM care services, we are available 24/7 to take your call: 610-323-9800.
An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia can lead to a range of extreme emotions such as anxiety, depression, anger, or relief. Although there is no cure for this progressive disease, with enough time the person living with dementia can prepare for the future. The diagnosed person can establish the details of their own care before they are determined by others.
If you are a family caregiver, you must also prepare yourself for the future instead of reacting to changes as they occur. It is not possible for one person to attend to all the emotional and physiological needs of another adult in the face of a progressive and terminal disease. Often intergenerational lines are blurred, and the caregiver assumes multiple roles.
The person living with dementia will increasingly depend on their caregivers. If you are the only one, they will depend exclusively on you to make sense of the world as they experience changes to their vision, sight, coordination, and speech. Their memory will be impaired as tangles and plaques increase, neurological connectivity is disrupted, and brain tissue atrophies and is removed from the body.
Often, we make the comparison between raising a child and caring for an older adult. However, unlike a child, older adults have collected a lifetime of experiences, even if they are no longer able to communicate them. These experiences give older adults a sense of pride and expectations for how they are to be treated. Even if they are unable to articulate their wants, they have established a sense of pride. Eventually they will depend exclusively on their caregivers for assistance. This means if you are the only caregiver, they will depend on you for 100% of their needs. When building a relationship, it is important to incorporate the client into their own plan of care. This is done easiest earlier in the disease progression. If you wait too long to incorporate other caregivers into your team, the care recipient may be unwilling to accept care from anyone but you.
Even if the caregiver thinks they are physically able to provide care on their own, this care is ineffective. Extreme stress inhibits our ability to perform our best. Family caregivers often suppress their own needs and wants to attend to those of the person living with dementia. Family caregivers find that they are completing the tasks, but without connecting to the care recipient and making mistakes that often lead to confrontation with the care recipient.
If you find yourself frustrated when providing care, consider evaluating yourself for signs of stress. Click here to complete the assessment.
Qualified professionals are available to help you with the stresses associated with caregiving. The Lutheran Settlement House offers a free Caregivers Reducing Stress program that creates an individualized program for you in the comfort of your own home. This program is available for those living within Philadelphia County. If interested, please visit their website here.
Have you built an effective care team? Even if your stress levels are tolerable now, you will eventually need help. Acting now prevents inadequate care and stress in the future. It allows us to learn the stories of your loved one in time, so we can incorporate them to effectively connect while providing care.
Let us form part of your care team, call 610-323-9800 or complete this form.
Angela participates in Alzheimer’s Association hosted health fairs. Examples of previous host facilities: Nazareth Hospital, various Senior Centers, and Nursing facilities all in the Delaware Valley.
Community Outreach Assistant / Delaware Valley Chapter - Alzheimer's AssociationNursePartners, Inc