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  • Writer's pictureNikita Chand

The 3 D’s of Healthcare – Dementia

Dementia is a broad term used to describe the gradual decline in mental ability that interferes with daily living. You may be working with patients that have a medical history of Dementia. There are many different types of Dementia’s, one commonly known type is Alzheimer’s.

We will not be going into detail about the different types of Dementia, as caring for these patients will be mostly consistent regardless of the type of dementia they have.

There are different degrees of mental decline that will affect your patient’s quality of life. Some patients may have mild memory loss affecting primarily their short term memory.

Other patients may have more severe cases of dementia that will affect their ability to do simple activities of daily living. For example, they may forget how to toilet themselves or how to cook and feed themselves. Forget to turn the stove off or lock the front door. Forget how to drive, change their clothes, brush their teeth. They may forget who their friends and family are. They may not even know their own name or birthday anymore. As you can see, dementia can be frightening for patients and their families, therefore these patients require varying amounts of individualized support.

Dementia Care Tips

It is better to be on the same team as your patient than against them. Research has documented that dementia patients have an increased awareness of other's emotions. These patients are better at gauging your intentions, mood, and whether you are genuine or not in your interaction with them. Keep this in mind when you are caring for these patients.

Be genuine in your approach to care. Always introduce who you are and what your role is. Smile with your eyes and lips. Always keep your hands out in front of you so that they can see what is in your hands.

Tell them about one task you will be doing until it is done (rather then overwhelm them with too many tasks and information at once). Tell them what care you will be doing and ask them if it is okay to proceed. Refrain from saying “you already told me that” or “why do you keep repeating yourself” Remember some of these patients will have a tendency to repeat. Stay calm and be patient. Sometimes these patients may tell you things that are untrue, such as, “I am late for work, I need to go!” Rather then saying, “No, you do not work anymore” it is better to play along with these patients. It would be preferable to say, “Lets help you get ready so you can be on your way to work.” Playing along with the stories that these patients have will help decrease their anxiety and ease tension, it will also help facilitate care. You will notice that by doing this with these patients they will gradually forget what they were worked up about in the first place. Never take advantage of these patients as they are considered a vulnerable population due to their gradual mental decline. This care tip should never be used with patients that have no history of dementia.

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