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Home Care Expert Insights

In Conversation with Christopher Smith to Bring His Insights on Supporting Dementia Elderly

As the population ages, the number of seniors living with dementia is on the rise, making caregiving for individuals with this condition a pressing issue. They play a vital role in providing essential support and assistance to seniors with dementia, ensuring they maintain a dignified and comfortable life.

Caring for someone with dementia demands unique skills, empathy, and patience as the condition progressively affects memory, cognition, and daily functioning. To foster the best possible care, they must adapt their approach to communication and caregiving techniques to meet the specific needs of each individual, keeping a safe and nurturing environment.

To shed some light on the same, we interviewed a home care industry expert to bring his perspective on dementia care to light.

Expert QA session with Christopher Smith

Who Did We Interview?

Christopher Smith is a Christian Servant Leadership coach, a senior healthcare and dementia care professional, and an author. With over a decade in the senior and dementia healthcare field and over 25 years as a leadership and business consultant, he has combined the two strengths, devoting his time to ‘inspire those who serve others in the senior healthcare field.

He has received recognition as a Certified Assistant Living Administrator, a Board Certified Dementia Educator, Certified Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Trainer, and a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

Christopher Smith is the author of “Who Am I and What Am I Doing Here?” and is working on his second book titled “The Professional Caregiver.” a combination of professional caregiver stories from around the world and the values the professional caregivers aspire. Publication is planned for Winter 2023.

His company, The Harvest Field, facilitates, trains, and coaches in Christian servant leadership, focusing on senior care.

Let’s get started with knowing what our expert thinks of the home care industry:

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

Effective use of knowledge is powerful for professional and family caregivers. Each ‘friend’ with dementia is at a different stage and is feeling the effects of that stage and understanding the next stage differently. No two ‘friends’ with dementia are the same, and no two dementia cases are the same.

We understand our loved ones when we are empathetic, placing ourselves in their circumstances (unless we have dementia, this is nearly impossible).

It’s a scary place for caregivers and our ‘friends.’ Love is the operative word – in every stage.

Question 2: Do dementia patients need to make lifestyle changes to minimize the impact?

I refer back to ‘knowledge.’ Caregivers need to adjust their lifestyle, which includes daily habits which will end up focusing almost 100% on their loved one, financial and home adjustments, as well as changes in eating habits, sleeping habits, and most of all ‘rest.’

Caregivers need to find ‘peace’ and ‘rest,’ and from this, hospice chaplain and Christian coach – ‘find joy in the moments’ and ‘always look for the rainbow – there is always a rainbow.’

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

Tact and diplomacy, Empathy, Patience

Currently, I am learning to communicate with my fiance, who spoke Thai when we first met (she is from Thailand). The one thing I have learned is patience and the understanding that I am not 100% sure I understand her or that she understands me.

Patience, time, peace, and love.

I have worked with hundreds of families and professional caregivers. Many times they get frustrated that their loved one does not understand them. An understanding that the loved one with dementia may no longer be able to understand.

It’s like pouring a gallon of water into an 8-ounce cup. It can’t take it all in; only a little bit is understood.

Question 4: Do caregivers and family members need to take certain steps to make the elderly’s house dementia friendly?

I have little experience in this area. However, the few things I have seen that I have recommended are; appropriate locks on doors, area rugs should be removed, and coffee tables with sharp edges should be removed or cushioned.

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

From 1 Corinthians 13:8a, 4-7 (NIV)
“Love never fails. Love is patient; love is kind.

It does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud. It does not dishonor others; it is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Final Words

Caregivers play an indispensable role in the lives of seniors with dementia, offering unwavering support and compassion. Their dedication ensures that those with dementia receive the care and attention they deserve to maintain their dignity and well-being.

As dementia presents unique challenges, caregivers must adapt and evolve their caregiving techniques to suit each senior’s individual needs. Their commitment and empathy foster a nurturing environment, enhancing the quality of life for those facing this condition.

By recognizing and valuing the profound impact of caregivers, we can collectively work towards creating a more inclusive and compassionate society for seniors with dementia.

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

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