This is the first of three newsletters devoted to presenting methods of working with dementia residents in a potentially more productive manner. All of us know what a tough job you have, and you have our respect. We hope these methods help both the resident and you.

Background: Certain parts of our brain protect us by responding immediately to dangers without thinking. Other parts of the brain evaluate the danger and then we decide on a course of conduct. For those with dementia, the evaluation part of the brain does not commonly work well, and they are left with the immediate response without thinking. The classic example is that we see a snake and we jump. If our evaluation part of our brain is working, we see that the snake is a “garden” snake and is too far away to hurt us.  

Dental example of needed resident cooperation: One important care area is dental. The lack of cooperation from a dementia participant or resident can prevent necessary daily oral care from occurring. The lack of proper oral care is known to impact not only the mouth but is generally accepted as predisposing these participants and residents to systemic diseases such as NH-acquired pneumonia, cardiac disease and cerebral vascular accidents and hyperglycemia.

Methods of working with the dementia: 

Here are some initial tips that can be used to potentially allow more productive interactions with a dementia participant or resident.

  1. Standing tall over a participant or resident may trigger concern in them. You want to try when possible to lower yourself so you are less threatening.
  2. They may not be able to “read” your many possible expressions and therefore fear you. A simple smile is easy for them to read and allows them to remain calm.
  3. Try to go to see them alone rather than with another person or two. A group of people coming towards them may cause fear.

There will be two more newsletters coming soon which will collectively set forth 12 more methods for working with the dementia participant or resident.

All of the Comprehensive Mobile Care associated Providers and their support staff understand these 15 methods and use them for better interaction with those with dementia.

SOURCE: Brookdale Leadership in Aging Foundation, Rita A Jablonski PHD, CRNP et al