A big shout out to Dorothy, LaToya, Pat, Denise, and Lia who attended our in-service titled “All About Dementia”. We talked about the challenges for people affected by dementia and the special challenges caregivers (professional & family alike) of those with dementia face. Knowledge is power. It gives us understanding which builds our compassion and makes us better caregivers.
We had some key takeaways from this session. The first is that dementia is not a diagnosis. “Dementia” is one word to describe the many symptoms of different diseases that fall under a dementia “umbrella”. The diagnosis of “dementia” also means at least 2 parts of the brain are dying. Unlike some other organs, brain cells do not regenerate once dead.
The second interesting fact we learned about is why dementia patients sometimes use foul language as their disease progresses. A common challenge when caring for someone with dementia is handling the swear words and offensive language that they sometimes use. A common thought is “If they can speak those swear words then they can have a “normal” conversation which means they are choosing to use these offensive words.” The language center is located on the left side of our brain. The language center is used for regular communication such as to voice our needs and to have conversations. The right side of our brain houses the emotional center which helps us keep our feelings in check. Swear words live on both sides of the brain. With dementia, someone may lose the capability for language on the left side of the brain, but maintain the emotional part of the right brain, but with loss of impulse control. Put both of those things together and you have someone who appears to be able to use language just fine, yet appear belligerent and offensive because swear words are the bulk of the words they use. This is why people who have brain damage of all kinds (stroke, traumatic brain injury, dementia) may have trouble speaking, but words flow more easily when they swear.
Finally, we, as caregivers, should change our response to people with dementia. It is important to understand that the brain disease is causing the behavior and that the behavior is a symptom of the brain disease. We do not expect someone with a spinal cord injury to get up and walk, yet many times we may have the unrealistic expectation that someone with dementia can control their behavior. All forms of dementia create holes in the brain that affect each patient in different ways. People with dementia are doing the best they can with what brain capacity they have left. It is important to meet them where they are. We cannot expect them to see our “reality”. Be patient and compassionate, as always. There is so much to cover in regards to educating ourselves about dementia. We have only scratched the service
We want to encourage all of our caregivers to attend our in-service training sessions whenever possible. As a caregiver at HomeChoice Home Care Solutions you receive paid training for any in-service you attend, your attendance is a positive factor in your next review and we offer delicious snacks and goodies for those who attend.