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Home Care Expert Insights

In Conversation with Erika R. Gibson to Bring Her Insights on Providing Care to Individuals with Dementia

Caregivers providing their care services to seniors with dementia must be compassionate and patient towards the care recipients. In all cases, the first step is to create a safe, familiar, and structured environment that reduces confusion and anxiety.

Further, set regular routines for meals, sleep, and activities to provide them with a sense of security and predictability. Engage them in memory-stimulating activities like puzzles, music, or looking at old photos to slow their cognitive decline.

Also, make sure that you communicate simply, clearly, and reassuringly, avoiding arguments or confrontations. Physical health is equally important, so ensure a balanced diet, regular exercise, and timely medical check-ups.

To address their emotional well-being, empathy and companionship go a long way in alleviating their feelings of fear or isolation. Lastly, respect their dignity and individuality and seek support from professionals or support groups to manage the challenges and stress.

To shed some light on the same, we interviewed a home care industry expert to bring her perspective on enhancing the quality of life for seniors with dementia.

Expert QA session with Erika Gibson

Who Did We Interview?

Erika R. Gibson is an executive director and senior living consultant in healthcare. For about 27 years, she has worked in various capacities in skilled care, memory care, and assisted living. Her prime purpose lies in teaching and guiding caregivers and families to be successful in senior care.

Let us now delve into what she has to say about providing care to individuals with dementia:

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

Having worked in senior living for several years, I have realized that continuing education is important for caregivers. Unfortunately, if the caregivers are employed through an agency, chances are that only the standard training modules are provided.

Stretching outside their comfort zone and finding seminars, watching documentaries and educational videos, reading books, and hearing stories from others can strengthen their knowledge. It will enhance their ability to get more success in the care they provide.

Do not be afraid to connect with others. Form a group where you chat and share stories. Learn from each other and strengthen your support for those you care for. Growing and expanding your knowledge of the condition allows you to create better care plans and provide a more structured, person-centered care environment.

Question 2. Do seniors with dementia need to make lifestyle changes to minimize the impact?

For those with dementia, a healthy lifestyle is essential when trying to minimize the impact. Have a plan involving caregivers, exercise, a healthy diet, and activities for mental stimulation.

For those preparing for the future, take steps and plan by maintaining diet, exercise, and regular mental challenges. Change things up, continue to challenge yourself, and learn something new even if you are dealing with dementia.

Creating a plan with family for the future is also important. Every elderly with dementia should communicate their wishes before it is too late. Seniors with dementia must let those around them know about the lifestyle standard they want to maintain despite the progression of their cognitive decline.

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

Patience and being calm verbally and in demeanor are important when communicating with those with dementia. Validation and a solid person-centered care plan are important.

Family members and caregivers must meet the individual with dementia where they are in their progression.

Scolding, arguing, and making the individual aware of what is wrong is never a good practice.

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

Caregivers and family members should evaluate the home based on the elderly’s needs and continue evaluating as changes occur. Are there certain items that are trip hazards (like rugs or tables with corners)? If the seniors often head for the front door, make sure the lock is easily accessible for them.

If they like to rummage or organize, have a specific area for them to rummage or organize things. Also, have a picture and description of your loved one in case they leave the home. Lastly, request your neighbors to watch out for your loved one’s whereabouts.

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

Be sure to take care of yourself. Caring for someone is a selfless act that takes dedication and perseverance. We often forget that we cannot help people if we cannot help ourselves.

Schedule some free time for yourself. Do not feel guilty about doing things for yourself. If you are not in the right mindset and healthy, you are doing yourself and the one you are caring for a disservice.

Create such a care plan for the one(s) you care for that they receive the same level of care while you are away.

In Conclusion

Ongoing education is the key to delivering effective dementia care. Caregivers must look for seminars, videos, and support groups to strengthen their knowledge.

For seniors with dementia, a healthy lifestyle slows progression. It includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and mental stimulation. Planning is crucial. So, they must discuss future care wishes with family members.

Further, good communication is vital. Be patient and calm, and validate the feelings of individuals with dementia. Avoid arguments and focus on person-centered care.

Make their home safe. Remove trip hazards, secure exits, and create designated areas for activities they enjoy.

Finally, caregivers – do not neglect yourselves! Schedule a self-care time and meanwhile, create a backup care plan so your loved one’s needs are always met. After all, a healthy caregiver provides the best care.

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

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