Caring for people with dementia
As populations age, caring for people with dementia has become more common. Elderly caregiving may consist of formal care and informal care. Formal care involves the services of community and medical partners, while informal care involves the support of family, friends, and local communities, but more often from spouses, adult children and other relatives. In most mild to medium cases of dementia the primary caregiver is a family member, usually a spouse or adult child. Over time more professional care in the form of nursing and other supportive care may be required, whether at home or in a long term care facility. Architects in designs for aging in place can consider the relationship of the built environment to the functioning and well-being of seniors.
The role of family caregivers has also become more prominent, as care in the familiar surroundings of home may delay onset of some symptoms and postpone or eliminate the need for more professional and costly levels of care. Home-based care may entail tremendous economic, emotional costs as well. Family caregivers often give up time from work and forego pay in order to spend an average of 47 hours per week with an affected loved one, who frequently cannot be left alone. In a survey of patients with long-term care insurance, the direct and indirect costs of caring for an Alzheimer's disease patient averaged $77,500 per year in the United States. Caregivers are themselves subject to increased incidence of depression, anxiety, and, in some cases, physical health issues.
Schulz et al. concluded in a US study that "the transition to institutional care is particularly difficult for spouses, almost half of whom visit the patient daily and continue to provide help with physical care during their visits. Clinical interventions that better prepare the caregiver for a placement transition and treat their depression and anxiety following placement may be of great benefit to these individuals." Thommessen et al. found in a Norwegian study that the most common stressors reported were "disorganization of household routines, difficulties with going away for holidays, restrictions on social life, and the disturbances of sleep..." and that this was common to carers for dementia, stroke and Parkinson's disease patients. In a Japanese study, Hirono et al. assessed that "the patients' functional and neuropsychiatric impairments were the main patient factors which increased the caregiver's burden." An Italian study by Marvardi et al. found "that patients' behavioral disturbances and disability were the major predictors of the time-dependent burden; the psychophysical burden was explained mainly by caregiver anxiety and depression."
Respite or day care
Caring for someone with dementia is accompanied by many emotional and physical challenges. Respite care is designed to give rest or relief to caregivers. A 2014 did not report any benefits or detrimental effects from the use of these interventions. However, these results may be due to the lack of high quality studies in this field.
Early utilization of in-home help services may delay institutionalization.
A 2010 review summarizes what is known about best practices for safe and stimulating environments for dementia.
Advances in caregiving for those with dementia
Caring for someone with dementia is especially challenging due to the fact that dementia patents soon lose the ability to speak or otherwise communicate and seem unable to understand what's said to them. Care approaches known variously as patient centered care or comfort-centered care attempt to address the difficulty in communication between caregiver and patient. These terms are used in reference to all patient populations, not just dementia patients. Comfort Matters, a program developed by a team of geriatric nurses in Phoenix Arizona, is one program of patient-centered care techniques that has received positive results. Caregivers who learn Comfort Matters techniques are trained to to read all behaviors of a dementia patient -- e.g., yelling, resisting care, resisting going to bed or getting up -- as forms of communication in which the patient is attempting to express discomfort, anxiety or other special needs. Once the caregiver deciphers what is meant by the behavior and address the patent's needs, the disruptive behavior ceases. Many of the principles used by Comfort Matters and other patient-centered care programs were inspired by the writing of Tom Kitwood, particularly his book, Dementia Reconsidered -- The person come first.
|Wikiversity has learning resources about Caregiving and dementia|
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Dementia patients at Beatitudes are allowed practically anything that brings comfort
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Beatitudes tries to provide residents with pleasurable moments throughout the day.
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- Next Step in Care: free, downloadable resources for family caregivers and health care providers
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