Wondering How to Navigate the Complexities of Dementia Care?

Dementia is often perceived as a daunting challenge, but this episode shed light on a more nuanced view. Emphasizing the person behind the diagnosis, the discussion highlighted the importance of focusing on abilities rather than limitations. 

This perspective shift is crucial for both caregivers and those living with dementia, promoting a more positive and hopeful approach to daily living.

Navigating the Journey: Empowering Strategies for Dementia Care

0:01:40 Exploring the Function of Wings in Dementia Analogy
0:02:07 What Can be Included Under the Wings?
0:02:31 Strategies for helping people with dementia
0:03:10 Transitioning from rehabilitative to habilitative phase in dementia care
0:08:47 Exploring strategies to maintain function in dementia care

The Role of Rehabilitation and Habilitation in Dementia Care

The podcast delved into the critical roles of rehabilitation and habilitation in managing dementia. Rehabilitation, particularly in the early stages of dementia, involves strategies to retrain the brain and teach new skills. 

As dementia progresses, the focus shifts to habilitation – maintaining current functions and preventing decline. This dual approach caters to the evolving needs of individuals at different stages of dementia, offering tailored support and care.

Collaborative Strategies: The Intersection of Therapies

A key theme in the podcast was the intersection of various therapies in dementia care. Occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy each play a unique role. The discussion emphasized the importance of employing a blend of these therapies to address the multifaceted nature of dementia. This collaborative approach ensures a comprehensive and effective strategy for maintaining cognitive and physical functions.

Empowering Caregivers: Tools and Techniques

Caregivers are crucial in the journey of dementia care, and the podcast provided valuable insights into supporting them. By equipping caregivers with the right tools and knowledge, the podcast aimed to make the caregiving journey more manageable and fulfilling.

Understanding the nuances of dementia care, learning effective communication techniques, and creating a supportive environment are integral to the well-being of both caregivers and those they care for.

Fostering Dignity and Quality of Life

Above all, the podcast emphasized the importance of fostering dignity and quality of life for those living with dementia. Recognizing and respecting the individuality of each person, tailoring care to their specific needs, and focusing on their strengths are key to ensuring a life filled with dignity and purpose.

Conclusion: A Journey of Hope and Empowerment

This podcast episode serves as a beacon of hope and empowerment for those navigating the complexities of dementia care. It reminds us that with the right approach, knowledge, and support, we can make a significant difference in the lives of those living with dementia and their caregivers. The journey might be challenging, but it's one that can be traversed with compassion, understanding, and effective strategies.

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Welcome to today's program

[0:53] So welcome to today's program.

[1:02] Well, welcome back. Welcome back. This is October the 26th, and it is episode 50 of the Baffled Brain Demystifying Dementia, where we continue to unpack the analogy of using an airplane to explain the dementia and dementia process to people to make it simple to understand, to keep keep it easy for people to understand.

Thank you for joining me again today. I appreciate your time and I'm super excited to be here again on this beautiful, beautiful day.

So let's dive right into today's episode.

Exploring the Function of Wings in Dementia Analogy

[1:40] So we're going to look at what the wings are, right?

Planes come in lots of different shapes and sizes. And what do wings do when we're on a flight?

So wings actually create lift, right?

Wings are what create lift and hold the airplane up in the air.

So as we're on our dementia journey, what can we put under the wings, right?

What Can be Included Under the Wings?

[2:07] What can we include in this part of the analogy to make it easy and simple for people to understand?

So what I have done in my framework work is I have included within the wings, what gives us lift and what gives us, um.

Strategies for Dementia Care

[2:31] Helps if I don't drop my brain, right? What gives us lift are the nuts and bolts strategies that we would use as occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech language pathologists to help people with dementia.

[2:45] So we treat people with dementia all the time.

If you think about it, one out of every three seniors die with some form of dementia. And in South Carolina, we are seventh in the nation for the highest incidence of dementia.

And there are lots of reasons for that. And we will continue to explore some of the reasons as we look at causes and so on.

Transitioning from rehabilitative to habilitative phase in dementia care

[3:10] But from a pragmatic perspective, what can we talk about when we talk about creating lift or helping us in our journey, in our flight, to keep the plane in the air?

So from an occupational therapy perspective, I continue to work.

I work as a home health therapist, and I thoroughly love my job.

But what we do when we're working with people with dementia is I use lots of different frameworks that I've been taught over the years.

One is called the Allen Disabilities Model, which is a cognitive disabilities model that helps to look at people's abilities in their dementia journey and how we stage people using this tool.

We assess them using this tool. And then we use the different things that we have learned in order to write goals and in order for us to keep working with the person with dementia.

[4:12] What you want to remember in the rehabilitation process is that there are two types of things that we look at. Number one is rehabilitation.

What does the word rehabilitation mean?

[4:26] Well, rehabilitation just means the person themselves is still able to improve.

So when we consider somebody with dementia, when a person is first diagnosed with dementia, they will not necessarily be so significantly impaired that they don't have the ability to learn.

So at the beginning phases of dementia or mild cognitive impairment phases, which are, you know, just the beginning stages when a person dies.

Takes a cognitive assessment that a test will show that somebody is having difficulty with their thinking.

So in those first two phases, mild cognitive impairment, as well as mild dementia, a person can still fall in a rehabilitative phase.

For example, mom falls, breaks her hip, she has an underlying history of mild cognitive impairment, we can still rehabilitate.

We work on on actively trying to retrain the brain, work on trying to teach the person new strategies, etc.

Well, when a person with dementia gets to that point where they're not able to learn new information anymore, they fall into what we call a habilitative stage.

[5:43] Well, habilitation is just the big fat fancy word for maintaining function, not allowing a person to decline in function.

So we understand as physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, that a person with dementia is ultimately going to decline over time.

And when they get to that point when they cannot learn new information anymore, then they fall into the habilitative phase.

So using the different models that I use, one, like I said, is the Allen Cognitive Disabilities Model.

And that allows me to see when a person goes from a rehabilitative phase to a habilitative phase, or we need to maintain function and try to decrease the rate of decline with the person.

But we're not actually trying to teach them new information and new strategies anymore.

So the Allen is one that I use frequently.

One of the newer ones that I have started to use is called skills to care.

[6:46] Is a wonderful, wonderful evidence-based occupational therapy treatment plan that we use with the care partners.

And it looks at the care partner as being primary in this relationship between the person with dementia and the care partner.

And the person with dementia almost becomes secondary.

It's not that we're not treating them because we are treating them.

But what we're focusing on, the emphasis is to try to decrease, we talked last...

[7:25] Last time I did this broadcast yesterday, we talked about challenging behaviors, right?

And challenging behaviors being a person with dementia's inability to communicate an unmet need, whether it be physical or emotional.

Well, skills to care takes into consideration three different spheres.

It looks at the person with dementia, it looks at the care partner, and it looks at the environment. And when all three of those are happy, happy, then the person with dementia doesn't necessarily exhibit these challenging behaviors.

Then another frame of reference that I use that I've just recently become familiar with is called dementia with dignity.

[8:06] It's actually the Dawn method. It was developed by Judy Cornish, and I'm going to try to get her on my program to talk about her particular way of doing dementia and dementia care because it's very different.

She comes from a different background and a different viewpoint, but it is very well encompassing.

And we're all actually saying the same things.

We're just saying them in a little bit different ways. And so with the wings of an airplane, what we're going to be exploring when we get to each of these different sections is how do we put them together? What are the nuts and bolts?

Exploring strategies to maintain function in dementia care

[8:47] How do we keep this dementia plane in the air?

How do we keep this flight as smooth as possible using all these different strategies from physical therapy, from speech therapy, from occupational therapy, what kind of tests we can do, all sorts of lots of nuts and bolts type of information to try to keep a person with dementia at the beginning in the rehabilitative phase.

And then in the later on processes in the habilitative phase so that we can maintain function for as long as possible to keep our loved one with dementia healthy.

[9:26] From um losing their abilities because like i said way at the beginning of my podcasts uh my emphasis is on ability not disability yes we look at the disability yes it is a part of the process but there is so much a person with dementia can do and we can thrive with dementia we don't just have to survive i'm sick and tired of people telling me they wish that they've met me years so that we could teach them these strategies.

So this is my gift to you to continue to educate and train as best as possible using this podcast format, how to maintain function and work on ability and not disability.

[10:14] So if you like these programs, please subscribe, click like, click share, share with your friends, share with your families, subscribe to my YouTube channel, which is Think Different Dementia.

You can join my Facebook group, which is Think Different Dementia Education Group, and you certainly can subscribe to this podcast.

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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