Dementia Training Should be a Requirement in School

As many of you know, I am a clinical psychologist. I'm also a certified dementia practitioner and an Alzheimer's disease and dementia care trainer. I have been treating those with dementia for about 12 years now. In that time, I created and practiced my own dementia care model and even wrote a book on it, being published by Johns Hopkins in October. I've trained and educated thousands of individuals. I've done podcasts, interviews, and more regarding the field. Some would say I am one of the experts in dementia care. 

However, would you believe that I did not have one course on dementia in undergraduate or my graduate years? I remember in a course or two, perhaps a chapter included on cognitive disorders, however, it was never a focus or requirement to understand cognitive disorders. Most everything I learned about the disease of dementia came from my own doing.

Up until 12 years ago, my education and experience was mainly working with those with mental health disorders. When I...

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24 Hours in a Day

There are 24 hours in a day. How do you spend them? You might be thinking, especially now with more people being home or more time on the frontlines, "I work", "I take care of my kids", "I help my child with e-learning", "I'm taking care of my parents"...where do you fall into this? You, yes YOU, are the common denominator to make all this happen. Who takes care of you, so you can do all of this? When do you take care of you, so you can do all of this? 

Here's the long of the short of it...you are in charge of your self-care. You choose how you spend the 24 hours that are in the day. Let's break this down. Generally speaking and in line with health standards, people get 6-8 hours of sleep a night. That leaves you with 16-18 hours left. If you work, you may work 8-10 hour days (give or take). Now, that leaves you with 6-8 hours. You then may need to assist your kids with homework or the aftermath of e-learning; let's say that's about 2-4 hours. You now have about 4-6 hours....

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Self-Care at Your Fingertips

Often times when we talk to people about self-care, they are quick to say that they don't have time or they aren't sure what to do. We've also heard that's it's too costly, thinking that self-care means paying for an expensive massage, manicure or pedicure...now, don't get me wrong, those are nice self-care tools, however, self-care doesn't have to cost any money, can be done in less than 5 minutes, and it's all in your mind!

Here's how...

Instructions: Choose a quiet place, if able. Lay down or sit in a chair with both feet flat on the ground. Place your hands to your side. Either have someone read the script below and close your eyes, or keep your eyes open, read to yourself, and imagine in your mind.

"I'd like you to take 3 deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. You are breathing from your diaphragm, not your chest.

Imagine that you are on a beach. You are sitting on your towel and you scoot yourself to the edge of the towel. You take off your shoes or...

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A Dementia Case Study in Treating Clean: My Name is Betty

"Betty was having a particularly tough afternoon. As the hours wore on, she started to become agitated with the people around her. She was wandering with an angry look, cursing, unwilling to listen, and trying to push people away if they became physically close. Betty repeated to herself, 'I want to go home; I want to go home.'

I stepped in to help calm Betty and prevent any further escalation. Approaching Betty gently, I presented myself in a calm manner with a smile on my face. I spoke to Betty in a calm, monotone voice. I played soothing sounds, used a lavender essential oil blend aromatically, and gave her a light touch so she knew that she was safe. Betty calmed down within minutes and even wanted to spend more time together."

Betty lived in a memory care facility. Appealing to Betty’s senses helped to deescalate the moment (visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile stimulation) and made her feel calm, while it made me feel confident and competent for helping her....

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Everyone Wins when Healing Clean

Using non-pharmacological techniques, whether in dementia care, mental health treatment, or practicing self-care, is a step to thinking, feeling, treating, and eventually healing clean. When we heal clean, everyone wins on both sides of those non-pharmacological techniques. How does that happen?

When using non-pharmacological techniques, we have control of what we are doing, when we do it, and how we do it. The 'what' is important to know that the things we are using are healthy for us or with whom we are treating; that we aren't filling our bodies, minds, and brains with toxins, minute killers, carcinogens, or contamination or that we won't have to deal with all these negative side effects. Actually, often times when we use non-pharmacological techniques, there are side benefits to the 'what' we are using. For example, maybe filling out crossword puzzles is stimulating and invigorating, leaving you feeling productive and ready to start the day. But a side benefit is that it is also...

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Clean Dementia Care

In the effort to think, feel, treat, and heal clean, how does this apply to dementia care. It's pretty typical that as part of the disease process, those with dementia will display a number of behavioral symptoms as a way to communicate. These behavioral symptoms mean something. The individual may be hungry, thirsty, tired, in pain, or needs to use the bathroom. Or the individual might be anxious, sad, angry, scared, or bored. However, sometimes these behavioral symptoms put the individual and their care partners at risk for injury. It's important as care providers that we help to anticipate what the individuals in our care need so they don't have to act out to show us they need something. However, when the individual with dementia does act out we need to recognize what's happening and intervene.

Unfortunately, often times an as needed psychotropic medication is used immediately at hopes to stop the behavior. Essentially it slows down the individual and sometimes even makes them...

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Clean Faster

What if we told you that you can treat clean faster? This means that non-pharmacological tools can work faster than most as needed, oral medications used to treat anxiety, excessive agitation, and more. 

In long-term care, and most other treating entities, CMS requires that healthcare providers attempt to use non-pharmacological interventions first before giving medications to treat symptoms of dementia and mental health concerns - anxiety, depression, agitation, wandering, repetitive behaviors, hoarding, aggression, and so on. Treating clean in this fashion is a Win, Win! Your organization is in compliance, it helps your 5-star rating and increases your reimbursement, while the resident or patient is not dealing with the negative side effects of these medications, like falls, confusion, irritability, and upset stomach. 

The other advantage is that you can treat clean faster. Did you know that it can take minimally 30 minutes for as needed medications to start working, and...

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Treat Clean

We've talked about thinking and feeling clean, i.e., swapping out toxic, quick fixes for long-term, effective, clean strategies for managing cognitive, mental, and emotional health. These are individual choices, however, what about if you are a professional treating patients or residents. What are their choices? Often in medical settings, it's quick to prescribe or give a pill to fix these very concerns. Like, a dementia patient starts to yell out, is repetitively talking, and wandering around, often they are given a PRN medication to calm them down. Why? What else could have been done? It's our due diligence to inform the patient, resident or their family on alternatives to medication - non-pharmacological interventions. What are those alternatives?

Great alternatives for mental and emotional health are essential oil use, like lavender for relaxation or agitation, peppermint to focus and socialize, or lemon or wild orange to boost mood. Other alternatives might be journaling,...

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Is Your Community CLEAN?

As time progresses, we think it is safe to say that we are maneuvering under a strict cleanliness guide. At the very least, it is the one thing we know for sure.

Unfortunately, COVID has presented challenges in communities that have been difficult to navigate. Each day, we struggle with deciding our next steps as the unknown is great. Emotionally and physically, we are challenged as each day passes to create a safe environment. Statistically, the vintage folks are at a much higher risk, but we believe that natural solutions can be quite effective and consoling.

We have been extremely impressed with some implementations that have been occurring in communities and facilities. Essential oils and aromatherapy have been used for thousands of years and can be added to aid in cleanliness. This tool is popping up more and more in the medical community as a way to aid them for their patient care. It is such a positive step in the direction to supporting the body and brain at being...
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Think Clean

Everyone is pretty keen on cleanliness these days! And, why shouldn't they be? We are living in a society that has relied heavily on being clean. What does that mean? Should we be concerned with over-clean? Don't we rely on bacteria and viruses to keep our immune systems strong? Is there a balance? How about being clean with your emotional and cognitive health?

We think that there is and so do other communities, like yours, that are adding additional layers of support using non-pharmacological care. We thought we would share some really great ideas that you can implement; we can even help create a program just for you and yours in mind. Here is some food for thought.

In a small study of 28 individuals with dementia, a blend of rosemary and lemon were used in the morning, and one made from lavender and orange in the evening, as summarized on Health and Healing NY. Patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's showed a positive change in dementia...

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