Tag Archives: compassionate touch

The Transformational Power of Touch in Dementia Care

073b5c55b0caf45ad6bb584bf7d4ede6-2Touch is one of our most fundamental needs.

It is the first sense to develop in the womb and one of the last ones to go during dying.  Although our situation, age and condition may change the need for human contact does not.

Why, then is touch deprivation so real in old age?  

It occurs, in part, because of separation from loved ones but mostly because of fear on the part of younger people. Fear of looking at old age up close and personal. I think that if old people are thought of as former people the assumption is they no longer have the same needs as when younger. When it comes to touch this idea really misses the mark! According to  Jane A. Simington, RN, PhD conducted a literature review and her findings were published in Humane Medicine Journal. She reports:

Older persons report that touch conveys fondness, security, closeness, warmth, concern, and encouragement, and makes them feel an increased sense of trust and well-being. They report that touch helps them to develop close, trusting relationships with staff and other residents. As tactile sensitivity decreases, the need to receive expressive touch may increase. Nature can be cruel however, and the elderly person often may have no one to provide this increased touch. The children are gone and the partner has died. One elderly woman put it this way, “Sometimes I hunger to be held. But he is the one who would have held me. He is the one who would have stroked my head. Now there is no one. No comfort.”

Caregivers can be agents of change and have the power to profoundly impact quality of life for older adults by reversing the effects of touch deprivation. Of course there are physical benefits of skilled touch that  result in improved function in activities of daily living.  Proper touch alleviates aches and pains and improves circulation, resulting in greater ease of movement and the ability to perform physical tasks with greater comfort. It can induce a relaxation response, leading to improved sleep quality and feelings of calmness. But focusing only on the physical benefits adds to the medicalization of aging.

Rather than viewing touch as a treatment for ailments let’s look to it as a way to validate the human experience of aging. The gift of caring touch encourages feelings of self-acceptance and worthiness. But our influence goes even further. By literally reaching out to older adults we demonstrate wholesome attitudes about aging. Maybe by our own actions we will encourage others to be more willing to touch our elders. Society as a whole stands to gain.

Ann Catlin, OTR, LMT is an expert and educator in the field of therapeutic touch and the creator of the groundbreaking Compassionate Touch® program for those living with dementia or at end-of-life.  Professional and family care partners are witnessing transformational change by using the Compassionate Touch program to engage, connect and comfort.  Compassionate Touch is a program of AGE-u-cate Training Institute, whose mission is developing cutting edge aging and dementia training.  

www.AGEucate.com

Increased Risks for Hospital Patients with Dementia

Medical Team Working On Patient In Emergency Room

About one fourth of older hospital patients have dementia.  These patients are at an outstandingly higher risk than other patients for:

  • Delirium
  • Falls
  • Dehydration
  • Poor Nutrition
  • Untreated Pain
  • Medication-related problems
  • Wandering
  • Agitated behavior

Because to the stress caused by acute illness and being in an unfamiliar setting, some older patients show signs of dementia for the first time in a hospital.

Delirium is a  disturbance in mental abilities that results in confused thinking and reduced awareness of your environment. The start of delirium is usually rapid — within hours or a few days.

Delirium can often be traced to one or more contributing factors, such as a severe or chronic medical illness, changes in metabolic balance (such as low sodium), medication, infection, surgery, or alcohol or drug withdrawal.

Dementia is the leading risk factor for delirium.  Patients with dementia are actually three to five times more likely than older adult patients to develop delirium in the hospital and two-thirds of delirium in hospitals occurs in patients with dementia.

These high risk adverse health events are rising at alarming rates as our aging population increases rapidly and hospitals are seeing more patients with dementia symptoms.

According to the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing and the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia should be considered a possibility in every hospital patient age 75 and over and can be present in younger patients as well.  People with dementia usually come into a hospital for treatment of their other medical conditions, although some come in because of complications of their dementia.  Of older people with dementia, 30% also have coronary artery disease; 28% congestive heart failure; 21% diabetes and 17% chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Doctors at Lutheran Medical Center in Denver, who serve the biggest senior population in the metro area, have made changes to help their older patients avoid the delirium diagnosis if they have no choice but to go the hospital.

They’ve essentially taken their traditional 42,000-square-foot emergency room and cut it in half, leaving one side equipped as a traditional ER, and turning the other half into a “Senior ER.”

A big key is preventing the all-too-common side-effects of delirium. See a special ER for seniors, equipped with dozens of brilliant features, that speed comfort and care to this population.

http://www.alzheimersweekly.com/2017/05/emergency-room-paradise-heals-dementias.html

Bridging technology, smart design features, reduced noise and training staff to better communicate with patients and families, more hospitals will transition to dementia friendly healthcare communities.   The “frightening” hospital experience for the growing population living with dementia may just be a thing of the past in a few years.

www.AGEucate.com

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute.   Their mission is developing and delivering cutting edge dementia education and training for health and long term care providers and others.  #DementiaLive #CompassionateTouch

 

 

 

Why Elder Abuse is a Public Health Crisis and Growing Worse

Elder Abuse is a serious problem that needs more attention from lawmakers, public agencies, senior care providers, faith communities and the general public.

The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that between one and two million elderly adults have suffered some form of elder abuse.  The main types are physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, neglect and self-neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation.

Elders with dementia are thought to be at greater risk of abuse and neglect than those of the general population.  In one study, 20% of caregivers expressed fears that they would become violent with the people for whom they care for.  Some other alarming statistics:

  • 60% of caregivers have been verbally abusive with the person for whom they were providing care (Journal of Elder Abuse 2005)
  • Between 5 and 10% of caregivers reported that they were physically abusive toward the care recipients (Journal of American Geriatrics 2010)
  • 14% of caregivers reported that they were neglectful (Journal of American Geriatrics Society 2010)

Why the urgency to address this problem?   The number of people living with dementia is rapidly rising.  Families are trying desperately to cope with the emotional and physical stress that comes with caring for someone with dementia.  It’s frightening to care for someone you don’t understand.

We must do more to reach family caregivers, who currently account for the majority of elder caregiving in our country.  Caregivers are trying to juggle work, often raising children at the same time they are caring for elderly parents.   Elder spouses are often isolated and without the support of community services simply because they don’t have access to what might be available to them.

Caregiving can be a lonely, overwhelming and and often a hopeless journey.   Families need education and tools to help them cope with the uncertainties that arise when caring for someone with dementia.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15th.  We are privileged to be collaborating with the Oregon Health Care Association to be sharing our innovative and cutting edge programs, Dementia Live™️ and Compassionate Touch® to family and professional caregivers on June 1st.   Caregivers desperately need a deeper understanding of dementia and practical tools to respond to behaviors.

We encourage everyone to step up in supporting our elders and caregivers and to stop the rise of elder abuse.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute whose mission is to provide cutting edge training and education which creates transformative change for an aging world.

www.AGEucate.com;

 www.OHCA.com

 

AAHHHH….. To Sleep Like a Baby Again. Is it Possible?

I know I’m not the only one munching on graham crackers and milk in the wee hours.  For those of you who sleep like a baby and wake up refreshed and energized… well let’s just say the rest of us are green with envy.

Good quality sleep is not overrated.  It’s absolutely essential to our health and well being.  According to Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, director of the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, “We now know sleep is an active process – all your organ systems behave differently during sleep, restoring themselves.”

During sleep,  our bodies are busy at work repairing itself, cleansing toxins, reducing inflammation.  And in recent years, research has linked higher risks of brain disorders, diabetes and obesity to sleep deprivation.

People living with dementia are certainly not immune to sleep challenges.  Disturbances can be caused by changes in the brain that cause restlessness,  urine or prostate problems, pain or discomfort, sleeping too much during the day, nightmares or environmental factors (for example external noise or feeling too hot or cold).

As dementia progresses, routine becomes more important to one’s feeling of safety and security.  This is certainly true with evening and bedtime rituals.  Not unlike what all of us should practice, here are a few reminders of what may help prepare for a better night’s sleep:

  • Light exercise in early evening, and wind down 90 minutes before bedtime.  Electronic devices should be minimized.
  • Dozing should be discouraged, as this may make falling asleep even more difficult.
  • Avoid tea, coffee, sodas or alcohol should be discouraged, as all of these can have an opposite effect, especially for someone living with dementia.
  • Make sure bed and room temperature is comfortable (cooler is generally better than warmer).
  • A regular routine of listening to soft music, a light back rub or applying aromatherapy lotion may be very helpful in creating a calming atmosphere that may induce sleepiness.

As more holistic therapies for sleep are ushered into person-centered care practices, less use of pharmacological aids will be needed.  Side effects of sleep-inducing drugs can have negative consequences on quality of life for those living with dementia and their care partners.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  Their groundbreaking program Compassionate Touch® is a practical and feasible means to reduce behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and crete positive engagement of elder, staff and family caregivers.  

www.AGEucate.com