fbpixel In Conversation with Adria Thompson | Home Care Expert Insights

Home Care Expert Insights

In Conversation with Adria Thompson to Bring Her Insights on Assisting Dementia Caregivers

Supporting caregivers of individuals with dementia requires a holistic approach that addresses their practical needs while also offering emotional support and understanding. It starts with providing education and training on dementia care techniques as these empower caregivers with the right skills to manage challenging behaviors and provide appropriate support.

This includes understanding the progression of the disease, communication strategies, and techniques for managing agitation or aggression.

Additionally, offering respite care services can give caregivers much-needed breaks to rest and recharge. This could involve arranging for professional caregivers to step in temporarily or organizing support groups where caregivers can connect with others facing similar challenges and share experiences.

Also, caregivers may experience feelings of stress, guilt, and isolation. So, providing access to counseling services can offer them a safe space to express emotions and seek guidance.

To shed some light on the same, we interviewed a home care industry expert to bring her perspective on caregiver support.

Expert QA session with Adria Thompson

Who Did We Interview?

Adria is a reputed name in the field of Dementia Education for Caregivers. She has revolutionized the accessibility to dementia education by producing 400+ concise, evidence-based videos tailored for immediate use by caregivers.

To date, she has cultivated a dedicated global audience of 3,10,000 followers, and only last year, spoken at 10+ dementia education events. Throughout her noble professional journey, Adria has also orchestrated successful brand collaborations, seamlessly integrating valuable content with strategic marketing initiatives.

She’s also a seasoned speech language pathologist, with an experience spanning over 10 years.

Let’s now delve into what she has to say about the home care industry:

Question 1: What, in your opinion, can caregivers do to support seniors with dementia?

The number one most important thing that caregivers can do to support seniors with dementia is to educate themselves about the condition and understand what expectations they should have for the individual. I’m a firm believer that unmet expectations are the root of all frustration and disappointment in life. The same can be true when caring for someone with dementia. Caregivers who are unaware of the expected changes their loved ones will experience often find themselves far more frustrated and burnt out than those who know what to expect next.

Question 2: Do dementia patients need to make certain lifestyle changes for minimizing the impact?

We all need to make lifestyle changes to decrease the risk and impact of brain changes as we age. Research shows that there are many modifiable health factors that we can address throughout our lives. If someone already has a diagnosis of dementia, making lifestyle changes can also provide many benefits. It’s not too late. The five areas of brain health that are important regardless of age or stage are physical exercise, eating a brain-healthy diet, maintaining social engagement and connections with others, taking opportunities for cognitive stimulation, and managing health conditions.

Question 3: How should family members and caregivers communicate with dementia patients?

Every individual with dementia will experience some changes in their ability to communicate over time. For some, these changes happen very early and are one of the first symptoms noticed. But for others, they may maintain the ability to communicate well into their diagnosis. Therefore, specific recommendations for communication need to be individualized to what the person with dementia is experiencing. However, in general, it can be helpful to consider five things that may aid not only in their ability to express themselves but also in their ability to comprehend what they are hearing: First, slow your rate of speech. This doesn’t necessarily mean dragging out words, but instead adding pauses between ideas to allow time for processing. Second, ensure you’ve obtained their attention before you start to speak. The best way to do this might be by saying their name and ensuring eye contact first. Third, simplify your speech by saying exactly what you mean. We use figures of speech far more often than we realize, which can be confusing for someone experiencing brain changes. Fourth, repeat key details as you tell stories. For example, when we use pronouns, we are referring back to things we have mentioned earlier in the sentence or narrative. For individuals with short-term memory loss, they may not be able to recall what you’re referring to. Fifth, do not underestimate the power of being present. Oftentimes, when communication becomes hard, it could be easy to avoid interacting with them altogether. However, it’s important that we continue to try and at least be present in moments because that communicates love all by itself.

Question 4: Do caregivers and family members need to take certain steps to make the elderly’s house dementia friendly? (You can talk about making houses safe for preventing hazards).

There are some steps caregivers can take to make the environment safer for individuals with dementia. Not all individuals with dementia will experience physical changes, especially in the early and middle stages of dementia. So, it’s not that they have a physical inability to navigate through their environment. The most common issue is their safety awareness, and knowing what movements may be risky. With this in mind, some common changes that can be really beneficial are to decrease clutter in the environment, so they are not distracted by unimportant things in their quest to function throughout the day. If you’re noticing an item or an object is being used inappropriately, which may result in their injury, removing it from the environment or disabling it can ensure safety, such as an oven or chainsaw. Pay special attention to items on the floor, such as rugs or cords, that may be potential trip hazards, and remove them from walking paths. There are many devices that exist to make transferring and getting up and down from surfaces much easier. It may be difficult to know what you’re even looking for, but starting your search by typing “adaptive equipment” might be a good starting place.

Question 5: What advice do you give to caregivers dealing with dementia in older adults?

My best advice would be to stay informed about dementia, understand what expectations you should have, and also reassess your ability and resources to care for the person regularly. Knowing not only what your person with dementia is capable of but also what you’re capable of is extremely important. Be realistic and make sure that at all times you both feel safe and loved.

In Conclusion

An individual with dementia needs to be given personalized care, and that too, with utmost sensitivity. Both these aspects are actualized if caregivers, in the first place, know how to manage their expectations in terms of the healing outcomes of the seniors they’re assisting.

Relevant and regular caregiver training regarding the needs of individuals with dementia is a lucrative way to arrive at a win-win situation, for the caregivers and older adults.

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Want to contribute to our expert insights for the 'Home Care Q/A' series?

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