Tag Archives: Memory Care

Memory Care: Events are forgotten, but feelings linger

Feelings linger in memory care
Feelings linger.

For people in memory care, emotions may outlast memory of the event that triggered the emotion. This is according to a study by Justin Feinstein. In other words, if a person with dementia has a happy experience, say from a family visit, he will continue to feel happy for a period of time even though he forgets the actual visit. The same goes for sad or angry feelings. Memory care professionals sometimes question if their efforts have a lasting effect. Insight from this study suggests that yes, they do.

Families often avoid visiting loved ones with dementia, assuming that the visit won’t be remembered. They ask, So what difference does it make?  If emotion lingers even after the memory is gone, then it might make a big difference.

While the elder may not remember the visit, pleasurable feelings it elicits live on even though the person can’t say why she feels good. This is important information for families. Their visits positively impact quality of life—the feelings of connection lives on! Anyone with a loved one with dementia, perhaps the most important thing is to show up and create positive moments. Step outside in the sunshine, share music, hold hands, look at flowers.  Activities don’t need to be elaborate. Anything that creates pleasure may make a lasting difference.

As Maya Angelo says, “They won’t remember what you said but they’ll remember how you made them feel.”

 

Dementia Care: How to Make Magic Connections

Dementia care magic-wandWhen visiting someone with dementia, be ready for anything. Things can change day- to- day, even moment- to- moment in dementia care. A little preparation can go a long way to help create a positive experience in dementia care. Have a “magic bag” ready that you can pull things out of that may reach through the dementia to the person inside.

The magic begins by interacting with all the senses. Though some senses may have diminished from effects of dementia, other senses may still be sharp. In previous posts, we suggested pictures or items to bring back memories. There’s memory magic in senses beyond just vision.

The key to creating magic is to learn what the person did in the past or what was happening in the era that they grew up in, and then recreate sensory experiences to evoke memories.

Sound magic is not limited to just music. You can find recorded sounds of just about anything online, especially on Youtube. Here are a few favorite examples.

Familiar sounds often help to recall memories and evoke emotions and stories are sure to follow.

Touch magic is made with texture of familiar things from a person’s life. Present different textures of things such as fruits, fabrics, sand, beans, string/yarn, seashells, leaves, doll babies, tools, engines, aprons. Explore with many objects to discover which ones bring comfort or trigger memories.

If your magic bag contains objects to see, hear and touch, you’ll be equipped to conjure special moments. Care partners become detectives as we look for pieces of life. Because you never know what that one thing will be that reaches a forgotten piece. The magic happens while taking the journey together.

Dementia Communication: Learn how to understand

Dementia trainingHealthcare is quickly becoming dementia care. Whether you work in a clinic, long term care, home care, or hospital, you will interact with people dementia.  And these people will likely have speech and language challenges.  Dementia care training often focuses on the underlying impairment when care partners really need practical solutions.  Easy-to-learn dementia communication skills, save both parties frustration. Here are a helpful strategies.

When she has trouble finding the right words to tell you want she wants to say or you can’t understand her because of “word salad” or slurred speech.
  •  She may understand more than she can express with words.
  • Use skilled touch to reassure her.
  • Listen for a key word or phrase to give you a clue about what she is telling you and repeat the word to let her know you are paying attention.
  • Remember the emotions behind the words are more important than the words. Validate the emotion. Mirror the non-verbal expression: facial expression, movements or sounds.
  • It is easier for her to answer yes or no questions or those requiring one word response rather than open ended questions.
When he has trouble understanding what you say:
  •  Use touch to engage his attention.
  • Supplement your speech with gestures.
  • Be patient. Allow time for him to absorb what you said.
  • Pay attention to your non-verbal expression. It “speaks” when words are lost.
  • Point to objects that will clarify the message – or act out what you are trying to say.
  • Ask one question at a time.

When you feel confident in your ability to handle dementia communication challenges, you’re more at ease. You can then shift your focus away from the physical condition to what is even more important—the person you are serving at the moment.  You will be freer to connect with the person as a human being, a form of communication that speaks louder than words ever can. Isn’t that what person centered care is all about?

 

Memory Care – Do You Have What It Takes?

memory careIt’s no secret that memory care is one of the fastest growing senior care service, providing healthcare professionals increasing opportunities. But, if you are new to dementia care, I suggest you ask: “Am I really prepared?” and “Do I have what it takes?” Serving people with dementia requires a unique combination of knowledge, skills and personal awareness.

Be Informed
Knowledge gives you a foundation to act from. When informed, you can offer your care with confidence and ease. It’s essential to be informed about the characteristics and needs of people with dementia, such as:

  • Age related changes. It is important to understand the “normal” physical and functional changes of aging versus changes that are manifestations of a disease resulting in symptoms of dementia.
  • Common conditions found in eldercare settings. If you work in long term care, you will encounter people living with the effects of stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, hip fracture, cancer, among others. A basic understanding of these conditions will ensure that you provide safe, effective and meaningful service.
  • Special needs of elders in facility care. Those who live in care settings are often dealing with loss, grief, feelings of helplessness, lack of control, boredom, touch deprivation and feelings of isolation. Your awareness and compassionate acknowledgement of these sensitive issues will deepen your therapeutic relationship with each individual.

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