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When families seek help in caring for a loved one, they may turn to an in-home or home-care facility.

These wonderful assisted-living organizations provide the support patients need to live as independently as possible if they decide to stay at home. While others provide additional care as patients transition into facilities to recover from health scares, operations or for other circumstances.

Staff members of these facilities are trained, but are not always equipped with the emotional instruction it can take to care for someone with dementia.

In my role as an advocate and educator of aging issues, I believe it is necessary for facilities and staff to be “dementia-aware.” This means properly accepting that there is no way to stop or fix dementia and seeking out small, day-to-day accomplishments for the emotional rewarding facets of the job. When this happens, it results in more support and readiness for the special needs that dementia patients – and their families – need.

I try to get this across in each of my trainings by truly connecting with staff members. One client expands on that here:

“Laura came in with a hands-on approach and immediately connected with our management team and our staff … and more importantly, with our family members,” said Rob C., Executive Director, Woodmark Assisted Living.

It’s been an honor helping train Rob’s incredible staff. Caring for someone with dementia requires more than staff readiness, however. Because caring for someone with dementia is a community effort, my focus is multi-faceted. I help staff members prepare for this trying transition. I train staff members for the long haul if the patient will require longer care. I also provide advice to the family members as they prepare for a new journey in caring for their loved one.

In order to properly care for these patients, staff and family members must take on a new mindset. Our standards of success are modified through this new understanding. Because dementia is unchangeable and degenerative, our interactions with patients must be tailored to meet the challenges that arise from this illness. I train staff on managing expectations, which leads to meaningful moments, powerful connections and purposeful and fulfilling relationships between them and patients, and patients and the families. Care must be based on the individual’s own needs and comfort level. Customized and compassionate dementia care training creates a “dementia-aware” environment and helps build a strong bond between staff and residents – and happier and more fulfilling lives for everyone who’s involved.

For more information on my training, click here.

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