Caregivers of dementia patients face a difficult path with a need for more training and understanding for how to interact effectively with the patient. They are not always equipped with the emotional instruction it can take to care for someone with dementia.
In my role in bringing awareness to dementia care, I believe it is important for staff to be “dementia-aware”. This means accepting that you cannot fix or cure dementia and instead look for emotional rewards in small accomplishments. Having a good emotional balance and understanding is important to providing the care those dementia patients and their families need.
A report titled “They Want Docile” found that 179,000 residents of nursing homes across the United States are being given antipsychotic drugs that are not appropriate for their condition. These sedating drugs are intended to make life easier for caregivers.
These drugs have strong side effects including the possibility of death. Neither the patient nor their family members are given the information they need to make the proper consent to these prescriptions.
I find this report alarming and sad. It also shows that there is still a huge deficiency with dementia awareness in care homes. Too many people simply do not understand this disease, and therefore, they don’t know how to appropriately take care of someone who has it. The approach I advocate for is listening first, showing composure and patience, and to not take what a sufferer says personally – simple steps a caregiver can take to improve the relationship.
Over-medicating is not the answer for either party involved.
Building meaningful moments is the answer. It is what will bring more success to the caregiver-patient relationship.