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Providing care for people with dementia has unique requirements and challenges. In this course, you will be introduced to your role as a caregiver by learning about dementia as an illness, what you should expect in your role and how to provide care for your patients throughout the stages of their disease.
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UNDERSTANDING DEMENTIA WHAT IS DEMENTIA?
REVIEW THE FACTS
What facts about dementia make it challenging for caregivers to provide an effective care plan? Select ALL the correct answer.
Why is caregiving for dementia patients different? As mentioned before, for the most progressive types of dementia, symptoms worsen over time. You will likely be providing care for a patient in the mid or late stages of their disease. This can be physically and mentally challenging to a caregiver.
We cannot pour from an empty cup. We dedicated the first lesson to your health and safety as your well-being is our priority. When our bodies and minds are in top-condition, we are able to give the best care to our patients. It is important that know about practical steps we can take for our physical and mental health, and when to step back for some psychological first aid.
Different Stages require different methods of communication People who suffer from dementia experience difficulty in communicating. What that means for us is that our patients cannot convey their exact needs easily or ask for our help directly. However, we should not make general assumptions as their ability to communicate varies from person to person and what stage they are at in the disease. Lesson 2 will give you guidelines on how to effectively communicate and connect with your patient through different stages of dementia.
Daily Care and Activities Unfortunately, there is no cure for progressive types of dementia. But, there are treatments and activities that can slow down the progress and help our patients cope with the symptoms. As caregivers, it is our responsibility to implement a daily care plan and encourage activities to keep our patients physically and mentally engaged. By doing so, we help them enjoy a good quality of life despite their illness. In Lesson 3, you’ll learn some tips and guidelines for developing a healthy daily routine.
UNDERSTANDING DEMENTIA CAREGIVER HEALTH
A caregiver's role is fulfilling but it can also be challenging--both physically and mentally.
In this lesson, you will learn how to take care of the most important person in your job. YOU
In order to do that, you need to know the following: What to expect in your role How to prevent physical and mental exhaustion What are the warning signs of caregiver stress How to manage caregiver stress
Since there is no cure yet for progressive types of dementia, we have to prepare our hearts and minds for the reality that our patients will deteriorate over time and eventually die. This, unfortunately, is part of the emotional burden
Eat a healthy diet. Fuel your body with nutritious food that supports muscle strength and repair, immune system, and energy production.
Get quality rest. When we sleep, our body restores its energy and repairs itself from any damage. Rest is good for the body and the mind.
Exercise regularly. Exercise not only strengthens us physically but also is scientifically proven to relieve stress. You can do any activity that you prefer as long as you enjoy it and it inspires you to keep moving.
See a doctor. Someone needs to take care of you too. Visit a physician for your flu shots and consult immediately for any medical concerns you have.
Manage your stress levels Do you notice when you are stressed? It is important that we do not miss the warning signs so that we can address them while they are still manageable.
BELOW IS A SHORT LIST OF COMMON WARNING SIGNS OF CAREGIVER STRESS Which among these symptoms do you experience? You may select multiple items or choose none
Take a break. Use your rest days to fully unplug from your job. It is not a day to worry about your patients. Do not feel guilty about asking for time-outs or extra leaves if that is what you really need.
Relax What do you do to relieve stress? There are many relaxation methods that can help you and here are a few that you can explore: breathing exercises mindfulness meditation music therapy These three techniques are short enough to be used any time you need instant relief.
Connect with people Humans are social beings. We relieve stress by spending time with our loved ones or sharing our thoughts and feelings with them. When you feel isolated, reach out to a friend, family member, or even a professional.
Seek help when needed. Make psychological first aid a part of your self-care routine. This should not only be done after big traumatic experiences or when serious psychological issues arise. Join support groups and seek therapy even for early signs of stress. If you need a professional, reach out to us so that we can refer you to the right support and services.
What's the bottom line? Caring for yourself is no different to how you care for everyone else. A healthy diet, enough rest, exercise, and stress management--all of these are simple yet effective ways of keeping ourselves in tip-top shape. It's not selfish. It's necessary. Because people depend on our strength, we need to make sure that our heart, mind, and body are in a healthy state before we provide care for others.
Resources for Self-Care Check out these resources to learn more about self-care for caregivers. Self-Care for Caregivers Canada Head to Health The Ultimate Guide to Self Care for Nurses
UNDERSTANDING DEMENTIA COMMUNICATION
The Early Stage
In the early stage of the disease, the effects on communication skills are mild. The individual can still participate in social activities and engage in conversations.
However, he or she might feel confused during a complicated and long conversation. They could feel frustrated when trying to find the right words to say. You will also notice that they start to repeat stories.
The Middle Stage
The middle stage usually is the longest and the symptoms would have progressed from mild to moderate.
This means that the individual will become more forgetful, and they find it harder to understand what they hear. The patient will also feel more stressed and irritable as a result of more behavioral changes. Busy environments can disorient or stress them out.
How do we communicate in the middle stage of dementia? Which among the items below are good practices?
The Late Stage
The late stage of dementia is characterized by a severe decline in the ability to speak and make sense of their environment.
Your patient will depend more on non-verbal communication, like gestures, facial expressions, and sensing the tone in your voice. In the same way, they may not be able to verbally communicate what they want to say.
Establish trust. Your patient will often not recognize you so you should identify yourself when starting a conversation. Speak directly in front of them, at eye level if possible. Use a warm and friendly tone when speaking.
Use non-verbal communication effectively. "Show" them what you want to say. For example, if you want to ask what they need, point to the objects or show them one by one. Add facial expressions and emphasize messages using your tone.
Be empathic. When they cannot express themselves clearly, be empathic and read the emotion or feelings behind their message. These can give us a lot of clues as to what they need or if they are feeling discomfort or pain.
Use all senses. When appropriate, use touch, smell, sight, sounds, and taste as a form of communication.
Treat the person with dignity. Even when they cannot communicate, do not ignore them your patients. Avoid talking down on them or talking about them as if they are not present.
UNDERSTANDING DEMENTIA CAREGIVING FOR DIFFERENT STAGES OF DEMENTIA
Preparing Food and Eating
Bathing, Dressing and Grooming
General Hygiene i.e. dental care, toileting