"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....
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,...
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.
During this pandemic, many have had to reflect on how this has impacted their mental health. However, our residents, patients or loved ones with dementia aren't able to reflect like this and need us to really help them through this.
I wanted to share an excerpt from my upcoming book on dementia care directed towards families about how to help those who have dementia and are experiencing depression.
"Depression is very common for individuals living with dementia. Although the exact causes of depression in Alzheimer Disease are unknown, it is clear that changes in brain chemistry play a role. Changes to brain chemistry may be triggered internal by aging, genetics, or another disease, such as Alzheimer disease. External factors such as experiencing the death of a family or friend, work or troubles, or other traumas and stressors may also trigger changes to brain chemistry leading to depression.
This pandemic has driven many down the road of negativity. Some will continue down that road but others may be sitting back and reflecting, saying, "I can't do this anymore. Something has to give." Perhaps vacillating between "I can either keep eating like this and continue to gain weight or get back to my healthy eating and exercise habits" or "I can keep drinking everyday or cut down or stop all together" or "I can keep miserating in my bed or get back up." Did you hear that...."GET BACK UP". That's the key.
Get back up to being healthy again. Get back up to being present for your family. Get back up to be able to enjoy work again. Whatever your story. Get back up, and get your life back!
You need to find what works for you. Perhaps you have things that have helped you in the past that you just simply need to brush the cobwebs off, like journaling or gardening. Or maybe there are new ways to cope that you have never tried but want to - have you tried brain exercises or using...