Professional education gives peace of mind
Behind every person with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, there are people dedicated to helping. To ensure people with dementia receive the best possible care wherever they live, the Alzheimer Society offers professional education and workshops for healthcare professionals.
Elsie Shewchuk’s husband, Alex, has dementia. Alex lives at Holy Family Home, where many workers have taken P.I.E.C.E.S.™ education provided by the Alzheimer Society and the Winnipeg Health Region. Knowing care staff have received education to better support her husband gives Elsie greater peace of mind.
“People with dementia have to be treated with patience and compassion. They are still the same person they always were. You can tell which healthcare aides have taken professional education. They have empathy toward the residents,” says Elsie.
Elsie sits on the personal care home’s Resident/Family Council, which gives her opportunity to ask questions and learn new things that are happening regarding resident care.
“The more informed I can be, the better I can understand what my husband is going through,” says Elsie.
At last month’s council meeting, Holy Family Home discussed their goal of having staff members from every unit attend P.I.E.C.E.S.™ education.
“We think it’s very important for all direct care staff, including nurses, healthcare aids and allied health, to receive specialized dementia care education,” says Dulce Santos, Holy Family Home’s Resident Care Standards and Allied Health Manager.
The P.I.E.C.E.S.™ program educates staff working in personal care homes on ways to best care for people with dementia. Since dementia affects each person differently, the program educates workers about ways to achieve person-centred care.
Alexandra Beel is a Clinical Nurse Specialist at Deer Lodge Centre, whose job focuses on improving outcomes in patient care. Alexandra has taken the P.I.E.C.E.S.™ education program.
“The workshop gave me new insight and taught me things I wouldn’t have necessarily thought about on my own,” says Alexandra. “People with dementia have different ways of communicating. I use tools from the workshop to figure out the meaning of their behaviour.”
After Alexandra attended the workshop, workers from psychology, recreation and other departments contacted her to see if there was anything they could learn too. Alexandra says attending the P.I.E.C.E.S.™ workshop brought her and her colleagues together.
“The workshop helped me better understand other workers’ roles and how to establish a better care plan,” says Alexandra. “We need all the pieces of the puzzle to achieve positive outcomes for residents.”
The Alzheimer Society’s next professional education opportunity is the Dementia Care Conference. The two-day learning opportunity takes place March 10 and 11 at Canad Inns Polo Park from 9 am to 4:30 pm. For more information on the conference, please email Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 204-943-6622.
Caring for someone at end of life
In the later stage of dementia, care priorities often change. Instead of ongoing assistance or treatment, the focus changes to preparing for end of life and making sure your loved one is comfortable and free of pain.
Making end of life care decisions can be hard for families who have never had to make such decisions before. It’s important for families to consider options for end of life care well in advance so that they’re more prepared when care staff indicates that their family member’s end of life is approaching.
“If families are unsure what end of life will be like, they need to feel free to ask a healthcare professional what to expect,” says Norma Kirkby, Program Director at the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba.
Those living with dementia or caring for someone with the disease know that dementia is a journey. As the disease nears its final stages, people with dementia can’t discuss end of life options in the same way as they could at the time of their diagnosis.
“Having conversations with the person gives them an opportunity to express their wishes. Families are able to consider what’s important to the person and how they view a quality end of life,” says Val Paulley, retired Patient Care Manager at Riverview Personal Care Home and Vice President of the Board of Hospice & Palliative Care Manitoba.
Because of this, it’s good for families to discuss end of life options sooner. Val says it’s important for families to know the person’s life history, including their religious or spiritual interests. For example, many families choose to have their pastor, priest or spiritual mentor with them for support.
For older adults with dementia, death is not typically sudden. However, as end of life nears, changes in the person can happen more quickly. These changes can indicate to the family that the end of life is coming. During this time, there are things families can do to comfort a person. This may include playing music, giving a light massage, moisturizing skin and just being ‘present’ and ‘in the moment’ with the person. The techniques a caregiver chooses should comfort and relax the person and not add any pain or stress.
“After having given a lot of care, families are tired,” says Norma. “The long journey can make it harder for families to think through the end of life process and make care decisions. Planning ahead can better prepare families for any upcoming emotional stress.”
There are many resources families can use to learn about coping with illness, grief and end of life care. To learn more, Val suggests researching supportive materials from Palliative Care Manitoba (manitobahospice.ca), Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (chpca.net), Canadian Virtual Hospice (virutalhospice.ca) and eHospice (ehospice.com).
Each person with dementia and each family’s needs are different. Anticipating and planning for end of life decisions can help ease the dementia journey, and ensure families a better chance of emotional healing.
To learn more about end of life care, families are also welcome to contact the Alzheimer Society at 204-943-6622.
Driving and dementia: Planning in advance to hang up the keys
There comes a time when family members of someone affected by dementia become concerned about the person’s ability to drive safely. There may have been a couple of fender benders and minor traffic violations, or the person may have become lost and taken longer than expected to reach a destination.
When these sorts of things start to happen, it’s never an easy bridge to cross. Most family members are reluctant to take away the independence that driving provides, but at the same time recognize that the safety of the person – as well as others on the road – is at risk.
However, the loss of driving privileges may not need to be all encompassing, especially if families plan for the eventuality. In Manitoba, anyone with a diagnosis of dementia must inform Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI), and specialists will work with the person to assess driving ability.
“There is misinformation out there indicating that people lose their licence the moment their dementia diagnosis is reported,” says Dr. Barry Campbell, Medical Director of Geriatric Psychiatry at St. Boniface Hospital. “A diagnosis may mean that changes need to be made, but initially these could be minor.”
For example, MPI may still allow the person to drive, but might impose individualized rules, such as driving only in a familiar neighbourhood and not driving during rush hour or at night.
When reduced driving privileges are imposed, the person and their family should continue to plan for the future when driving must be stopped entirely. They can investigate alternate means of transportation, such as public transportation, taxis and volunteer drivers, or arrangements can be made for family and friends to assist. When driving under any circumstances is no longer safe, having plans in place can make the transition easier.
Some people with dementia may actually be relieved to hang up the keys because they’d been feeling a lack of confidence when driving. For others, however, not being able to drive can still feel like a huge loss.
“If there is an attempt to drive after the licence has been withdrawn, preventative steps must be taken, but this can be done in such a way that the person does not feel devalued or incapable,” says Maria Mathews, Manager of Family Education at the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba.
There are numerous ways to accomplish this. For example, family members can be supportive when the person expresses frustration about being unable to drive, while at the same time sharing their concerns about safety. As well, the car can be disabled by removing the battery, or the vehicle registration can be cancelled and the licence plate returned.
“The main thing is to ensure the safety of the person and the public,” explains Mathews.
For more information on this topic, the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba is presenting a free session called Driving & Dementia on Thursday, March 13 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm at The Waverley, 857 Wilkes Ave in Winnipeg. Click here to see the poster.
Participate in a survey for caregivers
The National Reference Centre for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care in Salamanca, Spain, under the auspices of the Spanish Government, has developed a survey for caregivers of people with dementia in order to understand the status of care at home worldwide.
The data provided by participants is anonymous. The survey consists of 25 questions and takes about three minutes to complete.
If you cannot read the survey in English, please refresh the page.
Medications may be a part of the treatment plan for a person with dementia. Supporting the person with dementia in taking their medications can help ensure safety and effectiveness.
When it is difficult for the person to take the medication independently, consider these approaches:
• Request simple, written instructions for taking the medication from the doctor or pharmacist. To gain maximum benefit, medications need to be taken as prescribed.
• Have a schedule that you and the person you assist have agreed on and are prepared to follow; be consistent in following the medication schedule.
• Provide a calm environment by minimizing distractions, keeping yourself calm and giving the person sufficient time to take the medication. If the person refuses the medication, set everything aside and try to give the medication a few minutes later.
• Encourage the person to take the medication on their own by using verbal and visual cues such as:
- Saying “It’s time to take your medicine.”
- Placing the medication in person’s hand, offering a glass of water, touching the hand, and gesturing to the person to take the medication to their mouth.
• If a plan doesn’t work on one occasion, be prepared that it may at another time. Have a variety of options to try.
• If the person appears to dislike the form of medication (i.e. tablet, liquid, capsule), check with the person’s doctor or pharmacist to learn if the medication is available in another form.
– I’m Still Here: A DVD Presentation on the Family and Social Implications of Dementia
– The Rising Tide of Dementia and Planning for the Future
Thursday, April 24
7 pm – 9 pm
Berney Theatre, Asper Jewish Community Campus
123 Doncaster St (map)
Click here for poster
Click here to register
Living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias Workshop (LWAD)
Dementia Care 2014
The Dementia Care conference is a two day learning opportunity for healthcare professionals caring for people with dementia.
Join us March 10 & 11, 2014 at Canad Inns Polo Park for Dementia Care 2014!
Brandon Chili Cook Off
Join us on Friday, March 14 for the 19th annual Chili Cook-Off from 6 to 8:30 pm at Houstons Country Roadhouse in Brandon, Manitoba.
Chili Cook-Off teams and individual competitors will add their own secret ingredient to the traditional beef, beans, tomatoes and spices to try and win an award for Best Chili. Also, diners can pay just $10 for a bowl of chili, a bun and a drink.
After the Chili Cook-Off, join us for Yuk-Yuk Comedy from 8:30 to 10 pm. Tickets cost $20.
Throughout the month of June, thousands of walkers throughout Manitoba will raise funds for the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. The money raised helps support programs and services for people affected by Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, and in the search for a cure.
The next Memory Walk will take place Thursday, June 12, 2014 at The Forks in Winnipeg!
Website coming soon!