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Home Care Expert Insights

In Conversation with Dr. Susan Wilson Krechel to Bring Her Insights on Dementia Care

Caring for elderly individuals with dementia is a multifaceted and compassionate undertaking that requires a deep understanding of the challenges posed by this cognitive condition.

Dementia, a progressive syndrome affecting memory, cognitive functions, and daily life activities, can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and ability to perform routine tasks. As our population ages, the demand for effective and empathetic care for those with dementia becomes increasingly important. Providing appropriate care involves addressing these individuals’ physical needs and nurturing their emotional and psychological well-being. It requires patience, adaptability, and a person-centered approach that recognizes each individual’s unique history, preferences, and abilities.

Caregivers, healthcare professionals, and support systems play a vital role in enhancing the lives of elderly individuals with dementia, ultimately promoting dignity, comfort, and a sense of connection amidst the complexities of their condition.

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

Expert QA session with Susan Wilson

Who Did We Interview?

Susan Wilson Krechel, M.D., is a retired Associate Professor of Anesthesiology from both Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Missouri Columbia. She cared for my husband Oliver during his 11-year battle with dementia and learned a lot, much of it the hard way.

She is the author of three books on dementia and dementia caregiving with the hope that she will make the journey easier for others. Her book, “How to Navigate the Minefield That Is Dementia with Your Loved One,” is written for the family coping with a loved one diagnosed with dementia. She believes knowledge is power, and her goal is to empower you with the knowledge of the disease and the confidence to face the future.

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?

Help them to maintain their quality of life. Quality of life in its simplest form entails being able to move freely (make sure they stay strong enough to do so), being able to achieve something (putting away the groceries, letting them help themselves and you), being able to take risks (life is inherently risky so basically stay out of their way, as long as what they are doing is not going to harm others).

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

The biggest lifestyle change must be to stop driving. Rideshare and public transportation allow for continued freedom of movement.

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

Communicating in person should not change. This includes hugs and kisses. Just be aware that they may not remember you at some point, and this can happen suddenly. You must communicate as a kind and caring new acquaintance when this occurs. Remote communication via telephone may be impossible without assistance for someone with dementia.

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

Making a living space dementia friendly involves similar measures for making it safe. Lock up weapons, and make sure controls on appliances such as stoves are inaccessible unless supervised. My own experience with dementia patients has convinced me that aging in the reverse model is a good one. Brain age can be determined; let it be your guide to allowing age-appropriate activities. Get the Grandkids involved. It’s good for both generations.

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

Caregiving for dementia patients can be time-consuming and difficult at times but look for and focus on moments of joy when your loved one is lucid and is as they always were.

Get help. Especially useful are elder care attorneys, adult daycare facilities, and palliative care networks.

In Conclusion

The journey of caring for elderly individuals with dementia is a profound testament to human compassion and resilience. Through tailored approaches that integrate medical expertise, patience, and unwavering support, we can create environments where these individuals continue to experience moments of joy and connection.

While the challenges are undeniable, the rewards of preserving dignity and improving the quality of life are immeasurable.

As we forge ahead, let us remember that every act of kindness, every moment of understanding, and every effort to enhance their well-being not only uplifts those in our care but also enriches the very fabric of our society.

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

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