Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Recognizing Quality Care
There are many different levels of care when it comes to Alzheimer’s or Dementia clients. The quality of care is hard to measure if you are not a knowledgeable authority on Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients, which most loved ones and family members of patients are not. In order to solve the mystery of what “quality” care should look like for Alzheimer’s and Dementia clients, we must educate ourselves on the whole picture and understand what the client’s true needs are.
Listening, Intuiting, Anticipating…
Quality care means listening to the needs that are expressed by the client and their family, and by always remembering the implicit needs that are so often forgotten. Depending on the severity of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, clients may or may not be able to verbally express what it is they need most, which could be anything from the comfort level of their surroundings to their daily level of physical pain. Here is where expertise, good communication with the client and the family, and intuition are the keys to providing exceptional care. Care providers must work with the family and use their expertise to anticipate the necessary care for the client.
Now is Where They Live
First and foremost, we must handle the client’s feelings with care. When dealing with Alzheimer’s patients, we have to understand that they can only live for the moment in terms of their emotions. As their moods change, their memory of how they felt sixty seconds ago is completely lost, so we must do all we can to constantly keep them happy.
Learning to Speak “Body Language”
The most important form of communication with the client is your body language. Alzheimer’s patients understand little about what people are saying but much about how they are saying it. Alzheimer’s patients are not receptive to arrogance or condescending language. A respectful but gentle tone of voice should be used rather than baby talk to encourage behavior. Care givers should use care when communicating to clients who suffer from Alzheimer’s or Dementia and be well trained in productive body language and verbal communication.
Care Comfort and Safety, The Essentials of Good Care
One basic need that is fundamental to a client’s stability is to provide an environment that fosters safety and familiarity. It is paramount to include the family of the client in all decisions that will affect the client. Both family and caregiver must be empowered to alert each other of any concern that might affect the mental or physical wellbeing of the client. Keeping the family involved in the client’s care on a regular basis allows for the most personalized plan of care possible.
As Alzheimer’s and Dementia set in, a frustrating confusion takes over in the mind and creates an outstanding need for comfort and safety. Care providers should be expected to take the time to do some research with both family and client to understand what factors best create these safe feelings.
The Simplest of Things
A safe and comfortable environment should not be limited just to physical surroundings. For instance, the familiar sound of Wheel of Fortune or the five o’clock evening news in the background during dinner could be an environmental factor that makes all the difference to bringing back a lost appetite. Such details can only be learned by taking the time get to know the client, their past habits and preferences.
Pain, Treatable but Often Overlooked
The basic physical needs of a client with Alzheimer’s or Dementia may sometimes be hard to recognize. Taking vitals and protecting your clients from environmental hazards are standard procedures when caring for Alzheimer’s and Dementia clients, but they are not enough to ensure total physical well being. Screening for physical pain should also be included in the daily monitoring of health for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients because clients are often unable to cognitively express to others any physical pain that they are experiencing. Care givers should be well trained to recognize signs of physical pain as minor as a simple headache, ultimately ensuring that your loved one does not have to endure any unnecessary physical pain or discomfort.
Every Client is Unique
It is necessary to go the extra mile to learn as much as possible about Alzheimer’s and Dementia clients in order to provide them with the best possible care. By taking the extra time to get to know the family and history of the client, a truly personalized a plan of care can be created. By diligent observation of habits and physical behavior, unnecessary pain and discomfort can be eliminated. These extra steps are a few factors that contribute to providing exceptional care for Alzheimer’s and Dementia clients.