Dear Caregivers,

dementia

One of the most important things to remember when caring for someone with dementia is the fact that dementia patients are human beings.  They have feelings, value and deserve respect.

Even if they can’t remember what year it is, where they live or your name.

It is never acceptable to shame, belittle or mistreat them, period.

Speak with them.  Listen to their stories, even if they ramble.  Let them know it is ok for them to be who they are right now.

Smile when you speak to them.  Look them in the eye when you speak to them.  Look them in the eye when they speak to you.

Love them for who they are right now.

When they try to help, thank them graciously.  Even if their help has caused extra work for you.

Engage with them where they’re at, don’t try to force them to where you’re at.

If you are ever in doubt as to how to respond to your loved one with dementia, just remember the golden rule … if you were confused, how would you like to be treated?

The universal truth

What is the universal truth?

The only people who will deny this truth are the executive officers and board members of health care facilities.

For those of us working in the trenches of health care we will scream this truth at the top of our lungs.  This includes CNAs, nurses, pharmacy workers and doctors. 

Ready for it?

WE ARE MASSIVELY UNDERSTAFFED!!!

Over 90% of all US states have no staff to patient ratio legislation or rules for care facilities.   (By care facilities I am speaking of nursing homes, rehab centers and hospitals.)  The states that do have rules for staffing the numbers are woefully inadequate to provide all the care that is needed.

The CEO’s and bean counters have lost grasp on the idea that we are working to provide care for human beings.  

These people come to us for whatever length of time because they are no longer able to care for themselves.  They need whole person care.  

What do I mean by whole person care?  We as human beings need social interaction, mental stimulus and to feel like we’re part of a community.  We need to feel important, loved and wanted.  When we’re feeling lonely or afraid we need to know that someone will be there to hold our hand.

When deprived of basic human contact other than for bodily function assistance (toileting, feeding and bathing) the human beings who are entrusted into our care will withdraw.  They will become depressed.  They die sooner and in a state of isolation that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

Health care workers are told to tick off boxes of care.  Did you toilet your charges every 2 hours?  Did your charges eat?  Did they drink?  Did you get them bathed?  Did you get their vitals?  Did they get their meds?  Did you answer all your call lights?  Did you dress them?  Are they in their bed or wheelchair?  Doesn’t sound like too much, hmmm?  Well keep in mind, we aren’t doing this for just one resident.  The average CNA can be responsible for 15 – 50 residents during a shift.  

There’s no tick off box of care asking:  Did you spend 30 minutes with your charge listening to their favorite childhood memories?  Did you hold the hand of your charge who was crying because they miss their now deceased spouse?  Did you manage to calm your charge who was terrified because they don’t know where they were?  How many of your charges were you able to get to smile?  How many laughed out loud?  Did you learn anything new about the wonderful people you’re caring for?

We need changes, the system is broken.  Caps on executive/board salaries and reasonable staff to resident ratios.  

Let us always remember that we are entrusted with caring for fellow human beings.  The ‘Golden Rule’ should be at the forefront of our minds whenever working in health care.  The truth of the matter is that one day we may be the residents.  Do we want the status quo or do we want better?   

It’s getting warmer!

I love summertime, hot weather and sunny skies lifts my spirits and I enjoy spending time outdoors.

With seniors we need to be extra vigilant about keeping them hydrated.  Seniors are at a higher risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke.  The featured image for this post is a handy chart to recognize the signs and symptoms of these conditions.

If you notice any symptoms, please get your loved one immediate medical attention!

I want to be a part of the solution

There are so many misconceptions about dementia, so much pain in the diagnosis and heartache for caregivers trying their best.  I’ve experienced this personally with my dad and grandpa.  I see it daily when working with my clients and their families.  I see it when I am out and around in public.

My goals are simple here.  I want to offer encouragement to caregivers and families.  I want to be a source of information.  I want to be a resource for someone with questions.

I will keep plugging away at my blog and hope to reach more people every day.  I have a request for all of those who already see these posts: