Tag Archives: leadership

The Art of Being an Effective Dementia Care Detective

Responding to challenging behavior for people living with dementia is often the greatest triggers of stress,  helplessness and frustration for professional and family caregivers.  Learning to be an effective dementia care detective incorporates knowledge of behavioral expression and having effective tools to respond, reassure and comfort.

Understanding and empathy are invaluable learning components for any caregiver or person working with people living with dementia.  When we step into their world, even for a brief time and experience what they might go through 24/7,  we gain a unique but powerful inside-out perspective of their world.

When we experience their frustration, helplessness, loss of control, feelings of inadequacy and lack of self confidence, our perspective of their world changes dramatically.  This “Wow, I had not idea” moment is powerful and unforgettable.

Taking this to new heights of learning requires more than the “Wow” moment.  Applying what we learn to understanding root causes of behavioral expression is critical.  All behavioral expression is a form of communication that expresses an unmet need.  If a person living with dementia has been robbed of language and logic, for instance, the caregiver must fine tune his or her dementia detective skills to determine what the needs are of their care partner.

Because a person living with dementia has slower brain processing speed, feeling rushed or overwhelmed by overstimulation or a caregiver’s lack of patience can often cause outbursts.  Simple communication tools might be too slow down our speech, use reassuring touch and communicate just one thought at a time can have an enormous effect on that person’s sense of coping and confidence.

Dementia care detective work requires patience and persistence to unlock the underlying cause of behaviors.   Aggression can be caused by disrupted sleep patterns often experienced by those living with dementia.  If this is the case, then care partners might try skilled touch, music or other therapies to help that person fall asleep and stay asleep.  Although change is difficult for persons with dementia, making small alterations in the environment (change lighting or away from distractions) can be effective.

Detective work requires trial and error.  Making notes of when behaviors occur and detecting patterns can be very effective.  At the same time, caregivers who practice patience,  stress reduction techniques for themselves will help their care partners, especially in times of challenging behavioral expression.

Gaining a foundation of experiencing their world is one of the most powerful and effective tools in building person centered care practices.  The transformative Dementia Live™Training and Education program is just that.  Effective, feasible and incredibly flexible, this program is available for elder care providers, hospitals, agencies and others to use with staff, families and as community outreach.  The AGE-u-cate® team has taken sensitivity awareness training to a new level with the Dementia Live program.  We encourage you to visit us at www.AGEucate.com for more information on how to bring Dementia Live™ or Compassionate Touch® to your organization.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those that care for them.   She and her team are the creators of the Dementia Live™ and Compassionate Touch ®training programs, empowering caregivers worldwide.  

“The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be” – Yogi Berra was Right!

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra was an American professional baseball catcher, manager, and coach who played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball.  One of his famous quotes “The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be” couldn’t be more appropriate as we look at the paradigm shifts taking place in our aging world.

Let’s ponder these facts:

  • By 2050, the number of people over 65 will more than double. Cities, communities, companies–and our entire culture–have some adjusting to do.
  • According the World Health Organization, the world will be short of 12.9 million health-care workers by 2035; today, that figure stands at 7.2 million. A 2013 WHO report  warns that the findings – if not addressed now – will have serious implications for the health of billions of people across all regions of the world.
  • Increases in the number of older Americans will have a profound impact on the age structure of the U.S. population. Back in 1970, children made up about one-third of the U.S. population, and only one-tenth were ages 65 and older. Today, the proportion who are children has dropped to about one-fourth, while the share who are elderly has risen to 13 percent.
No doubt we have enormous challenges,  but at the same time I believe an equal or even great number of opportunities.  So what is our call to action as change agents?
Lawmakers are hearing and responding from the vast organizations across the US and world who are committed to bettering policies across the aging spectrum.  These voices are changing policies and actions.   We are witnessing age friendly/dementia friendly movements sweeping the US and certainly across the globe.
Our young people have the greatest opportunity in history to move into healthcare jobs.  We’re seeing more programs implemented in high schools that direct students to careers in allied health and professional disciplines.

Collaboration among and between private and public sectors who serve aging adults and their caregivers is taking off.  We are all realizing that creating partnerships benefits all stake holders.

I think the legacy of this time period is not just about the paradigm shift, but that we have before us the greatest opportunity to instill in people the need to care for our elders and each other as we face these enormous societal challenges.   We can humanize the way we care for others across generations.  This is exciting and perhaps the greatest gift we can give to future generations.

The future certainly ain’t what it used to be…it can be better than ever!

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  A passionate advocate for our elders and those that care for them, her company’s mission is grounded in creating transformative change by providing innovative training and education.

How Five Minutes a Day Can Transform Care for Older Adults

Time is precious.  Staff is in short supply.  Family caregivers are stretched to the limit.  Just taking care of the basic needs  is hard enough, so five minutes a day seems – IMPOSSIBLE!

Humanizing care is the core of the person-centered philosophy initiative sweeping this country.  Dignity, respect and understanding the needs of any aging person is a culture change that I believe with enough stakeholders will transform care from the medical model that has driven our health care system for far too long.

If holistic care is the core of this belief, then education and tools for those who care for our older adults is paramount.  Tools that are feasible, effective, and will be sustained within the organization.  So, how can five minutes a day change someone’s dignity or sense of respect?

Engaging and communication are absolutely  essential elements that must be integrated into our staff training and family education plans.    These tools are incredibly simple to use, yet often overlooked because we are concentrating on the box checking (aka meeting regulations and requirements).  While charting is certainly important, let’s not overlook the essential elements of engagement and communication.

Here are 10 examples that can transform a person’s dignity, self-respect and value in five minutes a day:

  1. Remove words of endearment (honey, sweetie) and refer to them as they would like to be: Mrs., Mr. Sarah, Fred.  This takes one minute to ask another staff member, family or even the patient!
  2. When speaking, look at the individual in the eyes, talk clearly and slow down!  You don’t have to shout (no one likes being yelled at!).  This small gesture tells another person you are engaging with them because you want to engage.
  3. Use gentle touch on the hands, shoulders, arms or face to develop trust and show the person you genuinely care.  Touch will induce chemical changes in the brain that induce relaxation, reduce stress and many other benefits.
  4. Ask a person something about them.  It may be about their family, or what they did in their career, or a hobby.  Learn one new thing about them every day.
  5. Compliment and smile!  “You have a lovely blouse on today, Mrs. Smith.  I love the spring colors”.  “Mr. Jones, I appreciate your smile – it really lights up my day!”
  6. Practice mindfulness – being centered and in the moment when you are with your care partner.  When one is distracted or stressed, it shows!  Deep breathing or meditation can and should become a part of every caregiver’s daily de-stress routine.
  7. Pay attention to your body language and expression.  Clenched teeth, rolling eyes, closed arms all tell another person you don’t want to be where you are.
  8. Learn what music your care partner enjoys and throughout the day, play this music to set the tone for whatever the circumstances.
  9. Take a 5 minute walk outside and enjoy nature – it calms the soul, reduces anxiety for both care partners, not to mention the healthy shot of Vitamin D!
  10. Accept the moment and that no matter what positive things you do as a caregiver may not always be helpful that day.  Tomorrow, however is a NEW day!

Pam Brandon is  President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training® Institute and a passionate advocate for changing how we care for older adults.

www.AGEucate.com

Empathy Training for Dementia Care – A Strong Foundation Tool

AdobeStock_121846321Neurological research substantiates that human beings appear to be “wired” to be empathetic.  In other words, we all have an innate ability to be empathetic.   Would empathy training in dementia care  provide a strong foundation tool for front line staff to help improve the quality of life for those living with dementia?

Empathy is the ability for one to walk in someone else’s shoes.  To experience their world so as to gain a deeper understanding of what he/she is experiencing.  For those in dementia care, stepping into their world is often especially challenging, as behaviors and emotions can change rapidly and unexpectedly.

The “AHA” moment is HUGE when a care partner can feel the frustrations, anxiety, fear, helplessness and aloneness that living with dementia often perpetuates.  This opens a care partner’s eyes, thus propelling them to draw on this innate sense of empathy.  When care partners receive empathy training it becomes a strong foundational tool to build on critical skills that empower care partners, especially when helping someone who is living with dementia.  Some of these critical skills included:

  • The ability to deeply and with understanding of their reality
  • Learning to read and understand body language
  • Freeing oneself from creating perceptions or judgements by focusing on care partner’s feelings instead of your own
  • Accepting the reality of the moment – good, bad or indifferent
  • Avoidance of ever being “right” or having to prove a point
  • How to use such powerful and simplistic tools that have exponential benefits, such as touch, music, nature and art to help respond to behavioral expression
  • Allowing silence to build engagement without words
  • Gaining an inside-out perspective of living with dementia
  • Tapping memories that are still alive and impactful for the person living with dementia

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  Creator of the Dementia Live™️ Experience that powerfully simulates what living with dementia might be like, Pam is passionate about creating transformative change in elder care.

www.AGEucate.com