Operators who specialize in dementia care can create an integrated approach, recognizing that body and mind–physical and emotional health–are interrelated. Treatment for dementia employs nutrition, environment, activities, communication, and programs to maximize the use of the cognitive capabilities that remain intact while compensating for those that decline. Specialized programs, such as nutritional support and evaluation, treatment for critical issues such as depression, failure-free activity programming, and aromatherapy, can be created to cater to the specific needs of this population.
Our iCan approach allows us to understand a person not only as someone who suffers from illness, but also as someone who inhabits healthy parts and personality that remains even though it seems to be hidden by illness. People with dementia are like everyone else – they attach personal meanings to their activities. So when we engage in meaningful activities, then activity becomes therapy.
This therapeutic, multi-faceted interdisciplinary approach to activities, social and leisure programming provides specialized stimulation to create structure and support in meeting the physical, psychosocial, cognitive and spiritual needs of each resident.
This way we focus on designing activities for people that are failure-free and confidence building. When people are doing things they enjoy, a wonderful thing happens…their behavior issues vanish into the fog of dementia they leave behind. No longer are medications required to “control their behavior”, we use activities and programming for that. This program started out as a quest for better programming for our residents and a way to reduce the number of resident falls. While this goal was can be achieved, it also resonates with families, competitors, and with referral sources as a best practice in the delivery of dementia care in your marketplace. Further, staff embrace this because it was fun and creative for them as well as providing all the resource material – just a click away for them to use to make it happen. Anytime you can create programs that the staff enjoys as well as the residents, you have a homerun. Often I find what starts as a good idea to improve the quality of life for our residents also has a way of building confidence with our families and referral sources.
In summary, providing high-quality dementia care in a cost-effective way outside the skilled nursing setting is challenging but achievable. Success in this area requires specialized knowledge and a commitment among the management and staff to providing a comfortable, safe, and supportive environment for residents, as well as appropriate medical supervision and monitoring. As the number of seniors with dementia increases in the years ahead, this form of specialized care will be in high demand.
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