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How Can A Social Worker Help Someone With Dementia

Help With Emotional Adjustments

Support and services for people with dementia and carers: The dementia guide

Its not just the logistical issues that social workers can assist with. We also help with emotional impacts, says Epstein. Very often an adult child will say, I cant tell my mother what do. It can feel like theyre becoming the mother or it can even feel like a loss of a mother. Its hard for them to see that theyre helping the parent by instructing them, not co-opting them youre not doing anyone a favor by doing that. A social worker can help them navigate that new dynamic.

How Social Workers Can Help Families Who Are Caring For A Loved One With Dementia

Celebrated every March, the goal of National Social Work Month is to generate awareness of how social workers help individuals, families, groups, and the communities they reside in. From working with at risk youth to helping families navigate the healthcare system, social workers provide wise guidance, a shoulder to cry on, and practical assistance. For families facing the challenge of dementia or other memory-related cognitive disorders, they are an important member of the caregiving team. There are so many ways that social workers can help families who are caring for a loved one with Alzheimers disease or dementia. Here are just a few:

The Aims And Scope Of Safeguarding Adults Services

Concerns about adult abuse and neglect have led to the development of adult protection systems, most notably in the UK, the USA, Canada and Australia initially developed as a response to concerns about elder abuse in the 1980s and 1990s. A key policy document, the Toronto Declaration on the Global Protection of Elder Abuse highlighted the need for a universal human rights framework for older adults . It asserted that legal frameworks to address elder abuse were often missing, meaning that abuse might be recognised, but not adequately dealt with. Such arguments influenced responses by governments enabling the traditional focus on elder abuse to be broadened, to concepts of vulnerable adults or adults at risk more generally .

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Different Care Professionals You Will Meet

You will see professionals in a range of places, including hospitals and your home. Some will be NHS health professionals, including doctors and nurses. Others will be ‘allied health professionals, such as dentists.

You might also receive help from social care professionals. These are usually arranged through your local council.

Ways To Have Fun With Someone With Dementia

Support Services for People living With Dementia ...

Of course its beneficial for someone who has dementia to socialize with others, but what enjoyable activities can they specifically do? As discussed above, singing and listening to music have been shown to help with symptoms, and looking through old photo albums can stimulate memories in specific regions of the brain.

Something even more fun, however, is playing games. As technology advances, people with dementia have a surprising amount of gameplay options.

Video Games

Easy-to-play video games for the iPad or other types of tablets are becoming more accessible for people who wouldnt normally be interested in gaming. Evidence-based activities like playing on a tablet can improve executive functions, including organization and planning, for people with dementia.

A video game about cooking, for example, was developed to activate regions of the brain as the player simulates tasks associated with making food. Studies showed that people with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimers disease engaged with the game and benefitted from playing.

Other games that help people with dementia include Cognifit, which assesses memory and other thinking skills and then provides simple games to help train those parts of the brain, and Mindmate, which combines games with exercise, videos, and recipes.

Board Games and Puzzles

Dont Forget Exercise.

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Dementia Books On Prescription

Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia offers support for people diagnosed with dementia, their relatives and carers, or for people who would just like to find out more about the condition.

GPs and other health professionals can recommend titles from a list of 37 books on dementia. The books are available for anyone to borrow free from their local library.

Read more about the Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia.

Caregiving In The Late Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia

As Alzheimers or another dementia reaches the late stages, your loved one will likely require 24-hour care. They may be unable to walk or handle any personal care, have difficulty eating, be vulnerable to infections, and no longer able to express their needs. Problems with incontinence, mood, hallucinations, and delirium are also very common.

In your role as caregiver, youll likely be combining these new challenges with managing painful feelings of grief and loss and making difficult end-of-life decisions. You may even be experiencing relief that your loved ones long struggle is drawing to an end, or guilt that youve somehow failed as a caregiver. As at the other stages of your caregiving journey, its important to give yourself time to adjust, grieve your losses, and gain acceptance.

Since the caregiving demands are so extensive in the later stages, it may no longer be possible for you to provide the necessary care for your loved one alone. If the patient needs total support for routine activities such as bathing, dressing, or turning, you may not be strong enough to handle them on your own. Or you may feel that youre unable to ease their pain or make them as comfortable youd like. In such cases, you may want to consider moving them to a care facility such as a nursing home, where they can receive high levels of both custodial and medical care.

Connecting in the late stages of care

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Ten Tips For Communicating With A Person With Dementia

We arenât born knowing how to communicate with a person with dementiaâbut we can learn. Improving your communication skills will help make caregiving less stressful and will likely improve the quality of your relationship with your loved one. Good communication skills will also enhance your ability to handle the difficult behavior you may encounter as you care for a person with a dementing illness.

  • Set a positive mood for interaction. Your attitude and body language communicate your feelings and thoughts more strongly than your words do. Set a positive mood by speaking to your loved one in a pleasant and respectful manner. Use facial expressions, tone of voice, and physical touch to help convey your message and show your feelings of affection.
  • Get the personâs attention. Limit distractions and noiseâturn off the radio or TV, close the curtains or shut the door, or move to quieter surroundings. Before speaking, make sure you have her attention address her by name, identify yourself by name and relation, and use nonverbal cues and touch to help keep her focused. If she is seated, get down to her level and maintain eye contact.
  • Listen with your ears, eyes, and heart. Be patient in waiting for your loved oneâs reply. If she is struggling for an answer, itâs okay to suggest words. Watch for nonverbal cues and body language, and respond appropriately. Always strive to listen for the meaning and feelings that underlie the words.
  • The Crpd And Supported Decision

    Living with dementia

    The CRPD states that, Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which may hinder their participation in society. This definition clearly places people living with dementia within its remit, making them subject to its rights and protections. The CRPD marks a paradigm shift for the rights of persons with disabilities as it adopts a social model of disability , in contrast to a medical model or a social welfare model . The CRPD states that people with disabilities should be free from exploitation, violence and abuse and that state parties should take, all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect persons with disabilities, both within and outside the home . Furthermore, those with disabilities are given positive rights and entitlements by the CRPD, in contrast to the European Convention of Human Rights, which protects individuals negative rights .

    State Parties obligation to replace substitute decision-making regimes by supported decision-making requires both the abolition of substitute decision-making regimes and the development of supported decision-making alternatives.

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    The Alzheimers And Dementia Care Journey

    Caring for someone with Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia can be a long, stressful, and intensely emotional journey. But youre not alone. In the United States, there are more than 16 million people caring for someone with dementia, and many millions more around the world. As there is currently no cure for Alzheimers or dementia, it is often your caregiving and support that makes the biggest difference to your loved ones quality of life. That is a remarkable gift.

    However, caregiving can also become all-consuming. As your loved ones cognitive, physical, and functional abilities gradually diminish over time, its easy to become overwhelmed, disheartened, and neglect your own health and well-being. The burden of caregiving can put you at increased risk for significant health problems and many dementia caregivers experience depression, high levels of stress, or even burnout. And nearly all Alzheimers or dementia caregivers at some time experience sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and exhaustion. Seeking help and support along the way is not a luxury its a necessity.

    Just as each individual with Alzheimers disease or dementia progresses differently, so too can the caregiving experience vary widely from person to person. However, there are strategies that can aid you as a caregiver and help make your caregiving journey as rewarding as it is challenging.

    Affordable Online Therapy for Caregiving Support

    Need urgent help? .

    Environmental Design For People With Dementia

    When organising and/or purchasing living arrangements or care home placements for people with dementia, health and social care managers should ensure that the design of built environments meets the needs of people with dementia and complies with the Disability Discrimination Acts 1995 and 2005, because dementia is defined as a disability within the meaning of the Acts.

    When organising and/or purchasing living arrangements and/or care home placements for people with dementia, health and social care managers should ensure that built environments are enabling and aid orientation. Specific, but not exclusive, attention should be paid to: lighting, colour schemes, floor coverings, assistive technology, signage, garden design, and the access to and safety of the external environment.

    When organising and/or purchasing living arrangements and/or care home placements for people with dementia, health and social care managers should pay careful consideration to the size of units, the mix of residents, and the skill mix of staff to ensure that the environment is supportive and therapeutic.

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    Management And Coordination Of Care

    Health and social care staff should ensure that care of people with dementia and support for their carers is planned and provided within the framework of /coordination.

    Care managers and care coordinators should ensure that care plans are based on an assessment of the person with dementias life history, social and family circumstance, and preferences, as well as their physical and mental health needs and current level of functioning and abilities.

    Care managers and care coordinators should ensure the coordinated delivery of health and social care services for people with dementia. This should involve:

    • a combined care plan agreed by health and social services that takes into account the changing needs of the person with dementia and his or her carers
    • assignment of named health and/or social care staff to operate the care plan
    • endorsement of the care plan by the person with dementia and/or carers
    • formal reviews of the care plan, at a frequency agreed between professionals involved and the person with dementia and/or carers and recorded in the notes.

    A New Way To Help Dementia Patients

    How Can I Help a Person Who Has Dementia?

    Ballard and the other researchers had about half of the nursing homes take part in the WHELD trial.

    This trial focuses on training patient-centered care techniques to people working with dementia patients, and seeing how the patients fare.

    This training included planning out care plans and providing tailored, structural social activities for each patient. The goal is to provide 60 minutes of social activity per week for each person.

    Staff members were also given more information about the effects of antipsychotic medication and how to better understand the needs of distressed or agitated patients.

    In total, there were 640 patients still in the study at the nine-month mark. The United Kingdoms National Institute for Health Research funded the study.

    The researchers found that these patients who had at least an hour of social activity per week had lower rates of agitated behaviors as reported by their caregivers.

    They also had better quality of life as measured by a questionnaire and fewer neuropsychiatric symptoms.

    Costs were also lower in institutions that used WHELD intervention. However, the team didnt find lower usage of antipsychotic medication in the group that was in the WHELD nursing homes.

    Doug Brown, PhD, director of research and development at the Alzheimers Society, which helped collaborate on this study, said in a statement that its vital that staff have the right training to provide good quality dementia care.

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    What Types Of Help Are Available

    There are many different types of care available depending on the level of help or care you need.

    • Day-to-day support can be found through adult day centers and respite services. These options provide short-term care for a person with dementia and allow the caregiver to take a break. Day-to-day support may include supervision, meals delivered to the home, and/or transportation.
    • Long-term care in the home may be provided by unpaid family members and friends or by paid service providers and can involve general care or medical care. Home care services often focus on everyday activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, and ensuring the person with dementia is safe. Home health care services involve licensed medical professionals and require a doctors order.
    • Residential care may become necessary as a person with dementia requires more care and supervision than can be provided at home. Assisted living facilities may be able to provide enough support in the early stages of dementia, whereas nursing homes may be more appropriate for people who are no longer able to live safely at home. Continuing care retirement communities are multi-level care facilities that provide living accommodations and health services. A resident can move between multiple levels of care as needed.
    • Hospice services provide end-of-life care and comfort for people with dementia and their families. These services can be received in the home or at a residential care facility, hospital, or hospice facility.

    How To Get A Needs Assessment

    If you haven’t already had a needs assessment, contact social services at your local council and ask for one.

    Ideally, this assessment should take place face-to-face. It’s a good idea to have a relative or friend with you, if you’re not confident explaining your situation. They can also take notes for you.

    If the needs assessment identifies you need help to cope day-to-day, and a joint plan is agreed, you will then have a financial assessment to see if the council will pay towards the cost of care. In most cases you will be expected to pay towards the cost.

    Find out more about a needs assessment

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    How To Find A Social Worker

    For those interested in finding a dementia social worker, Epstein suggests looking online for community agencies, which often provide free social work services. State-funded initiatives, universities and clinical studies can also provide assistance. Private social workers or geriatric care managers are available as well, but can sometimes be more expensive.

    Supporting People Living With Dementia To Take Part In Safeguarding Decisions In England

    Getting to know the person with dementia: The importance of memories

    The following section explores how supported decision-making can be facilitated in England, one of four jurisdictions in the UK. The population of England was 55.6 million in 2018 . The most recent estimate of people with dementia, in 2013, found that 685,812 people were living with dementia . As in some other jurisdictions, social workers play a lead role in safeguarding and substitute decision-making processes, using a range of laws and policies, now described and discussed.

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    Gardens And Outdoor Environments For People With Dementia

    Literature on the design of residential homes also proposes that the well-being and of people with dementia living in residential homes is enhanced by free access to gardens. Gardens are presumed to provide opportunities for retreat, sensory stimulation, socialisation, exercise and activities in an environment that is safe and controlled but non-institutional . Gardens may also give people with dementia in residential care a sense of the outside world and of still being part of it. However, few studies have investigated whether people with dementia benefit from access to a garden and no studies attempt to identify the design features that might make gardens most beneficial or rewarding to people with dementia.

    suggest that gardens should provide a place where a person with dementia can spend time without fear of becoming disoriented or lost.

    However, the potential benefits from access to a garden may change with the progression of a persons dementia in the early stages, gardens may stimulate physical and mental function by promoting sensory activity, whereas in later stages they may promote an awareness outside of the self and create sensations of immediate pleasure. The potential for a person with dementia to enjoy and benefit from access to a garden may therefore be dependent on the individual and his or her dementia for some, the garden environment might be overstimulating and cause confusion and disorientation.


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