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Donna's Blog

Donna's Blog

Thoughts, concepts and ideas about dementia care...

  1. Musings...

    The Reason Behind the Behaviour

    I was at a facility recently and the staff told me that they were having trouble finding activities for one of their dementia patients. The resident said that every activity that they offered was too childish, even though they were selected to be age appropriate. After sitting with the person and trying different things with him, it turned out that the real problem was that he was having trouble with his hands and couldn't pick up the pieces for the activities. Saying that they were "childish" was his way of avoiding the problem.

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  2. Making Visits More Meaningful

    It can be difficult visiting someone with Alzheimer's or dementia - it can be hard to engage them in conversation, you may feel uncomfortable with some of the things they say, you just don't know what to do. What if it wasn't that way? What if you're visit was more meaningful for both you and the person you are visiting?

    Visiting someone with dementia can brighten their day. Research shows that engaging a person with dementia in meaningful activity improves their quality of life. In a facility, staff do their best to provide activities for residents, but there is only so much that they can do. Your visit, whether at home or in a facility, can make a difference and we can help.

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  3. In my wanderings...

    In my wanderings...

    I noticed a couple of things of interest in my visits to facilities over the past week or two.

    In a visit to Andrews of Summerside in PEI, I arrived a bit early for my session. The environmental staff person who was busy cleaning the floor noticed that a resident was looking for something to do. She picked up a ball and spent a few moments playing catch with the person. Great to see that she recognized a need and was willing to help the resident. In fact, at this same facility I was impressed to see that all of the care workers on the dementia unit stepped up and engaged residents as they saw the need. Here's a photo of an impromptu sorting activity.

    At Shoreham Village in Chester, NS all of the staff (yes, ALL of the staff) are now wearing simple white name tags that areName Tags in Action imprinted with the person's first name in a bold, black font that is easy to read, just as they learned in the DementiAbility workshop. The staff are excited to be wearing them, and are even more excited by the fact that residents now greet them by name.

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  4. Name Tags Revisited

    Name Tags Revisited

    You know from my previous posts that I'm a big fan of name tags, having seen how effective they can be. While doing some research on the internet I stumbled across a newsletter recently posted by a long term care facility that provides some objective evidence of the value of name tags. Here is what they had to say (the name has been removed for privacy reasons)...

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  5. Computers and Dementia

    Computers and Dementia

    Recently I was asked about the benefits of making computers available to residents in a dementia unit. My own experience has been in using iPad apps with residents and I expressed some reservation that residents with less range of motion and difficulties with spatial perception would be successful with a keyboard and mouse. I ended up answering the original question with an endorsement of iPads, but the question has stayed with me. Are there apps for computers that can engage residents and that they can use successfully?

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  6. iPads and Dementia

    iPads and Dementia

    When someone first suggested using an iPad with a resident with dementia, I was skeptical to say the least. I was barely familiar with them, how could someone with dementia who had never seen one before deal with it? Well, as it turns out, generally quite well!

    I was amazed at how many of the residents quickly became a "natural" at pressing the icons in the various games and activities and at the swiping motion to move along to the next screen. I don't know if it's the vibrant colours, the movement on the screen or the similarity to a book that does it, but most residents pick it up fairly readily.

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  7. The Benefits of Name Tags

    The Benefits of Name Tags

    How many times have you met up with somebody that you know and no matter how hard you try you can't come up with their name? Now imagine how that feels for the person with Alzheimer's or dementia.

    For you it's generally a passing moment but for the person with dementia the name never comes. Now imagine how good that person would feel if they could "remember" your name, even if it was because they read it on your name tag. I have seen the look of joy on the person's face as they are able to greet me with a friendly "Hi Donna" instead of a generic, impersonal greeting (or no greeting at all). It's a simple thing but makes the person proud and helps make a better connection between me and the person.

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  8. Finding the Meaning in What They Say

    Finding the Meaning in What They Say

    One of the first interactions that I had with someone with dementia occurred many years ago. I was spending the day with my mother-in-law in a facility in Toronto. For part of the morning we sat in the lobby watching the crazy Toronto traffic drive by.

    I happened to notice a van go by with the name “Howland” printed in large letters on the side. Apparently, so did my mother-in-law.

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