To constantly maintain the high professional standards of staff, we sent two of our employees to be certified by Teepa Snow to facilitate teaching the Positive Approach to Care for people living with dementia. Teepa has eight tips. We continue our two-part series as Ms. Snow has offered in our training.
For many people living with dementia, their first primary caregiver or care partner is their spouse/family or partner. For many reasons, this is ideal as they are generally the ones who know the most about them, and their needs have a shared history and an unquestionable comfort in personal topics and care.
Last month’s article listed four tips on keeping your spouse engaged when dementia is present. Here are the other four tips to keep in mind.
1. Think of what they enjoy. Most people enjoy playing games, relaxing, and having fun, but we also like to feel contributing and productive. Someone wants to feel productive and not just sit a watch as someone works. So why not make a list of things you know they like, even if it needs to be different then, what has been throughout your lives together. Some examples might include:
- Gardening – Plant flowers and vegetables, prepare the soil, dig in the soil or even play in the soil. Pull weeds, arrange flowers, and how about “stop and smell the roses!”
- Music – one of the things retained throughout the dementia journey of most forms of dementia is rhythm.
- Music, poetry, prayer, and even counting can be a way to engage. This could include anything from dancing together to listening to a radio station or just listening to the music of your past.
2. Be aware of energy levels. As we develop routines throughout our lives, we tend to have a natural flow and balance of energy up and down. As we age, we seem to take more breaks than before. When dementia is present, a person may be less aware of the need for a break. It then can be difficult to transition from activity to rest or from rest to activity.
3. Build a TEAM early. In the real world, when we married, we repeated: “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.” Our spouses are often the person with whom we have spent most of our lives. However, as dementia progresses, s/he will need more than you can provide by yourself, and it is so much harder to add in someone new late in progress. Having a friend for lunch weekly, hiring a professional, pulling in all family members you have near are ways to build your team.
4. Take time for yourself. You have probably noticed that all of the tips may sound familiar, or they are steps you have already encompassed in your journey. This isn’t easy for anyone. If you do not take time for yourself, you will find your reserves waning. Unfortunately, one of the leading risk factors for developing dementia is caring for someone living with dementia. Caring for a spouse or partner who is living with dementia can be challenging. Remember to care for yourself, which may mean building a team or joining a support group. Only when you have the support you need can you be in the best state of mind to support the person you love. Also, remember that self-care is not selfish.
To say it with the words of L.R. Knost, “Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.”
These tips of the Positive to Approach to Care are a part of the curriculum we share with our caregivers and nurses who are a part of our team at DayBreak Adult Care Services in Aiken. We offer training of this kind in many forms. If we have larger groups, we are available to teach them to the public. We also have an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group meeting at 11 a.m. second Tuesdays at the Lessie Price Senior Center, 841 Edgefield Ave. If you need another layer of support for a family member or need a respite, contact us at daybreakaiken.com or call 803-226-0288, and we can help.
Linda H. Lucas and Kara B. Flanders
DayBreak Marketing Team