The Power of Coping Skills and Non-pharmacological Techniques

The obvious about using coping tools and non-pharmacological techniques for mood issues or behavioral concerns is that the person receiving these are not faced with experiencing many side effects with the potential to cause more problems when taking medications instead. For example, if I'm anxious and I take an anti-anxiety medication, sure I might feel less anxious, however, I may also become unproductive that day, sleep more than usual, and then feel irritable and even more anxious as it wears off. Reason being, I haven't actually dealt with what caused my anxiety in the first place! Now, in the event the person is taking medications, even reaching for coping tools or the caregiver using non-pharmacological approaches will reduce the amount of or chances for side effects if PRN, or as needed, medication was being used on top of their routine medication regimen.

However, there are two other bonuses to regularly using coping tools and non-pharmacological techniques:

1. It...

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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 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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Practicing Gratitude

Through all the loss that people have experienced recently (loved ones, jobs, money, etc.), at some point, if not frequently, you stop to think about what you're grateful for. Your mind wants to shift gears from being trapped in  the negativity, reaching for something more. 

I've talked in the past about one coping skill in my toolbox is practicing gratitude. Gratitude is a reflection on what you are thankful for, what you can and should appreciate, a moment for you to stop and be in the moment with your thoughts.

Practicing gratitude might look different for you than me, and that's ok. This is how I do it. Every morning, right after I wake up, I write down in my journal 5 things I'm grateful for. I then envision me practicing that gratitude by either thanking someone if that is what I am grateful for or giving back to what I am thankful for. Lastly, I carry out that act sometime that day or week. 

Notice that it's not just about writing it down but actually...

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