Statistics show that the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease will grow dramatically in the coming years as the large Baby Boomer generation continues to age. And providing specialized and trained care for those with some form of dementia could help to differentiate your agency in the marketplace.
Today, 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, including an estimated 200,000 under the age of 65. By 2050, up to 16 million will have the disease.
In 2014, 15.7 million family and friends provided 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias – care valued at $217.7 billion.
Since this June is the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, we thought we would share some tips and advice we learned about caring for those with some form of dementia at the 2015 Decision Health Conference held in Las Vegas late last year.
Adequate Caregiver Trainer is Key
During the conference, I attended a session hosted by Katherine Johnson Vanderhorst, Vice-President of C&V Senior Care Specialists, Inc., who shared some great insights you need to know if your agency is considering expanding its offerings to include specialized dementia care.
One of the most important aspects of providing care for those with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is making sure that your caregivers are adequately trained for the behaviors and challenges they may encounter. Frustration and a lack of understanding can hinder even the most devoted caregiver.
At the breakout session, Ms. Johnson Vanderhorst mentioned a few helpful things caregivers can do to provide a high level of care for their clients. All three of these examples can be used and during each stage of the disease’s progression. Some examples mentioned include:
- Setting a Schedule or Daily Plan– Providing a schedule that is firm, but flexible depending on the client’s mood, is a great way to keep them focused. Eating and exercising at the same time every day helps provide structure. Consistency is key.
- Personalized Activities – If a client is feeling anxious or upset, a repetitive activity of their choosing can help them stay calm and relaxed. Examples include things like sorting familiar objects or knitting. Singing or listening to music from the person’s past can also be helpful.
- Distraction – Caregivers can help ease anxiety by asking the client questions about stories they love to tell, or about a fun time from their past. Clients with dementia have trouble remembering recent events, but can often recall detailed stories from their past.
Overall, the breakout session underlined the importance of knowledge and patience when caring for clients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Specializing in this type of care can not only add value to your agency’s offerings but also provide much-needed support and relief to a growing population of seniors affected by dementia.
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