Have a promo code?

News

28 Feb 2019

Understanding Dementia & Providing Care: Part 3

Understanding Dementia & Providing Care: Part 3

Dementia is a key consideration when it comes to providing high-quality care in many care environments, which is why understanding this condition and providing the very best levels of care is so essential. To help you to do that, we've put together our three-part guide to understanding dementia and providing the best levels of care possible. Following on from part one of our three-part dementia series here's part three. 

Part 3

Agitation

Agitation refers to a range of behaviors associated with dementia, including irritability, sleeplessness, and verbal or physical aggression. Often these types of behavior problems progress with the stages of dementia, from mild to more severe. Agitation may be triggered by a variety of things, including environmental factors, fear, and fatigue. Most often, agitation is triggered when the person experiences “control” being taken from him or her.

Reduce noise, clutter, or the number of persons in the room.

Maintain structure by keeping the same routines. Keep household objects and furniture in the same places. Familiar objects and photographs offer a sense of security and can suggest pleasant memories.

Reduce caffeine intake, sugar, and other foods that cause spikes in energy.

Try gentle touch, soothing music, reading, or walks to quell agitation. Speak in a reassuring voice. Do not try to restrain the person during a period of agitation.
Keep dangerous objects out of reach.

Allow the person to do as much for himself as possible—support his independence and ability to care for himself.

Acknowledge the confused person’s anger over the loss of control in his life. Tell him you understand his frustration.

Distract the person with a snack or an activity. Allow him to forget the troubling incident. Confronting a confused person may increase anxiety.

Repetitive Speech or Actions (Perseveration)

People with dementia will often repeat a word, statement, question, or activity over and over. While this type of behavior is usually harmless for the person with dementia, it can be annoying and stressful to caregivers. Sometimes the behavior is triggered by anxiety, boredom, fear, or environmental factors.

Provide plenty of reassurance and comfort, both in words and in touch.

Try distracting with a snack or activity.

Avoid reminding them that they just asked the same question. Try ignoring the behavior or question, and instead try refocusing the person into an activity such as singing or “helping” you with a chore.

Don’t discuss plans with a confused person until immediately prior to an event.

You may want to try placing a sign on the kitchen table, such as, “Dinner is at 6:30” or “Lois comes home at 5:00” to remove anxiety and uncertainty about anticipated events.

Learn to recognize certain behaviors. An agitated state or pulling at clothing, for example, could indicate a need to use the bathroom.

Paranoia

Seeing a loved one suddenly become suspicious, jealous, or accusatory is unsettling. Remember, what the person is experiencing is very real to them. It is best not to argue or disagree. This, too, is part of the dementia—try not to take it personally.

If the confused person suspects money is “missing,” allow her to keep small amounts of money in a pocket or handbag for easy inspection.

Help them look for the “missing” object and then distract them into another activity. Try to learn where the confused person’s favorite hiding places are for storing objects, which are frequently assumed to be “lost.” Avoid arguing.

Take time to explain to other family members and home-helpers that suspicious accusations are a part of the dementing illness.

Try nonverbal reassurances like a gentle touch or hug. Respond to the feeling behind the accusation and then reassure the person. You might try saying, “I see this frightens you; stay with me, I won’t let anything happen to you.”

Sleeplessness/Sundowning

Restlessness, agitation, disorientation, and other troubling behavior in people with dementia often get worse at the end of the day and sometimes continue throughout the night.

Experts believe this behavior, commonly called sundowning, is caused by a combination of factors, such as exhaustion from the day’s events and changes in the person’s biological clock that confuse day and night.

Increase daytime activities, particularly physical exercise. Discourage inactivity and napping during the day.

Watch out for dietary culprits, such as sugar, caffeine, and some types of junk food. Eliminate or restrict these types of foods and beverages to early in the day. Plan smaller meals throughout the day, including a light meal, such as half a sandwich, before bedtime.

Plan for the afternoon and evening hours to be quiet and calm; however, structured, quiet activity is important. Perhaps take a stroll outdoors, play a simple card game, or listen to soothing music together.

Turning on lights well before sunset and closing the curtains at dusk will minimize shadows and may help diminish confusion. At minimum, keep a nightlight in the person’s room, hallway, and bathroom.

Make sure the house is safe: block off stairs with gates, lock the kitchen door and/or put away dangerous items.

As a last resort, consider talking to the doctor about medication to help the agitated person relax and sleep. Be aware that sleeping pills and tranquilizers may solve one problem and create another, such as sleeping at night but being more confused the next day.

It’s essential that you, the caregiver, get enough sleep. If your loved one’s nighttime activity keeps you awake, consider asking a friend or relative, or hiring someone, to take a turn so that you can get a good night’s sleep. Catnaps during the day also might help.

Eating/Nutrition

Ensuring that your loved one is eating enough nutritious foods and drinking enough fluids is a challenge. People with dementia literally begin to forget that they need to eat and drink. Complicating the issue may be dental problems or medications that decrease appetite or make food taste “funny.” The consequences of poor nutrition are many, including weight loss, irritability, sleeplessness, bladder or bowel problems, and disorientation.

Make meal and snack times part of the daily routine and schedule them around the same time every day. Instead of three big meals, try five or six smaller ones.

Make mealtimes a special time. Try flowers or soft music. Turn off loud radio programs and the TV.

Eating independently should take precedence over eating neatly or with “proper” table manners. Finger foods support independence. Pre-cut and season the food. Try using a straw or a child’s “sippy cup” if holding a glass has become difficult. Provide assistance only when necessary and allow plenty of time for meals.

Sit down and eat with your loved one. Often they will mimic your actions, and it makes the meal more pleasant to share it with someone.

Prepare foods with your loved one in mind. If they have dentures or trouble chewing or swallowing, use soft foods or cut food into bite-size pieces.

If chewing and swallowing are issues, try gently moving the person’s chin in a chewing motion or lightly stroking their throat to encourage them to swallow.

If loss of weight is a problem, offer nutritious high-calorie snacks between meals. Breakfast foods high in carbohydrates are often preferred. On the other hand, if the problem is weight gain, keep high-calorie foods out of sight. Instead, keep handy fresh fruits, veggie trays, and other healthy low-calorie snacks.

Bathing

People with dementia often have difficulty remembering “good” hygiene, such as brushing teeth, toileting, bathing, and regularly changing their clothes. From childhood we are taught these are highly private and personal activities; to be undressed and cleaned by another can feel frightening, humiliating, and embarrassing. As a result, bathing often causes distress for both caregivers and their loved ones.

Think historically of your loved one’s hygiene routine — did she prefer baths or showers? Mornings or nights? Did she have her hair washed at the salon or do it herself? Was there a favorite scent, lotion, or powder she always used? Adopting—as much as possible—her past bathing routine may provide some comfort. Remember that it may not be necessary to bathe every day—sometimes twice a week is sufficient.

If your loved one has always been modest, enhance that feeling by making sure doors and curtains are closed. Whether in the shower or the bath, keep a towel over her front, lifting to wash as needed. Have towels and a robe or her clothes ready when she gets out.

Be mindful of the environment, such as the temperature of the room and water (older adults are more sensitive to heat and cold) and the adequacy of lighting. It’s a good idea to use safety features such as non-slip floor bath mats, grab-bars, and bath or shower seats. A hand-held shower might also be a good feature to install. Remember—people are often afraid of falling. Help them feel secure in the shower or tub.

Never leave a person with dementia unattended in the bath or shower. Have all the bath things you need laid out beforehand. If giving a bath, draw the bath water first. Reassure the person that the water is warm—perhaps pour a cup of water over her hands before she steps in.

If hair washing is a struggle, make it a separate activity. Or, use a dry shampoo.

If bathing in the tub or shower is consistently traumatic, a towel bath provides a soothing alternative. A bed bath has traditionally been used with only the most frail and bed-ridden patients, soaping up a bit at a time in their beds, rinsing off with a basin of water, and drying with towels. A growing number of nurses in and out of facilities, however, are beginning to recognize its value and a variation—the “towel bath”—for others as well, including people with dementia who find bathing in the tub or shower uncomfortable or unpleasant. The towel bath uses a large bath towel and washcloths dampened in a plastic bag of warm water and no-rinse soap. Large bath-blankets are used to keep the patient covered, dry and warm while the dampened towel and washcloths are massaged over the body.

Take a look at our extensive range - browse through now by clicking the following button

Browse Products

© 2019 CLH Healthcare - All Rights Reserved CLH Group Ltd - Company No. 10026607