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What Every Alzheimer’s/Dementia Caregiver Must Know

By Kim Warchol, OTR/L, DCCT

(Page 2 of 5)

2. Learn how to deliver dementia capable care

The 1997 Alzheimer’s Association publication “Key Elements of Dementia Care” identifies developing staff to become dementia capable as one of the key factors for quality dementia care and calls this a human resource guiding principle stating:

“Staff members are appropriately trained in the various components of Alzheimer’s/dementia care, and have ongoing opportunities for education and support. Staff should also demonstrate dementia-capable skills and knowledge before caring for residents with dementia.”

Let’s examine what I have found to be some of the key components of dementia capable care and describe how each should be applied by the professional or family caregiver to facilitate the best outcomes.

Component 1: Stage Appropriate Compensatory Care.

To enhance functional independence and emotional well-being, the caregiver must understand the dementia stages and how to provide compensatory care, meaning: Change the approach to gain the trust, agreement, and understanding of the person with Alzheimer’s/dementia, change the environment so it is supportive and not a hindrance or distraction and simplify the activity to the just right challenge level. At each stage, there is a certain amount of compensation that needs to occur. At the more advanced dementia stages, there is more compensation and assist needed. This is similar to the fact that a parent needs to provide more care and adaptation for a younger child.

Component 2: Dementia Capable Communication.

The caregiver must understand how to communicate with the person with Alzheimer’s/dementia. Simple communication modifications are necessary to increase understanding such as:

  • Wait for a response

  • Take a complex situation and make it simple by breaking it into one step directions

  • Use visual or hand over hand cues with words

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