Many residents of Mount Vernon and elsewhere are decent caregivers, providing basic home health care and maybe even some types of hospice care. But does this make them experts in caring for people with dementia? Not necessarily.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice has had training in helping all types of clients, from those who are alert but have medical conditions that require care to those who are fine physically but need mental health care. And everyone in between.
Many of our team members have been working with clients for years so we’ve seen all types. We also have plenty of classroom training for every more awareness.
We also know it can be extra challenging when the person you’re working with is also dealing with dementia.
Progressive forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, can slowly change a person as their brain and body begin to decline.
Dementias are more than forgetting memories. It can include loss of coordination, confusion, and increases in frustration, anxiety, and depression as the person begins to realize what’s going on. People with advanced forms of dementia may need regular monitoring so they don’t hurt themselves or others. As their brains permanently become impacted, their personalities may change, and they may lose the ability to communicate or perform even simple tasks.
There could be mood changes, behavior changes based on time of day, even security risks. A client may not recognize loved ones, feel threatened, or want to escape or even attack.
For a caregiver expecting to provide nothing more beyond basic care and companionship, seeing someone dealing with dementia can be downright frightening, especially if it’s a loved one.
Experts can help
Because more and more families are dealing with forms of dementia, there are more health care experts who are interested in learning more about it so they can help. It’s a topic that’s taught in nursing school or continuing education practicums.
Having this type of knowledge and experience can be useful for home health care jobs as well as positions at assisted living/memory care centers that offer advanced care in secure settings.
There are several ways to learn more, and one is simply to take as many classes are you can find, either in person or virtually. Or you can try a specific certification that demonstrates that you have learned certain amounts of knowledge about how to work with those with types of dementias.
One is the Dementia Care Specialist position certification, which provides updated info about dementias along with the ability to train others. Two types of certification include the Dementia Capable Care Instructor Certification Program and the Dementia Capable Care Certification.
People with these types of certifications can be useful to several different groups. They can work directly with clients. They can also work with family members who are confused and don’t know how to respond to their relative acting differently.
They can also work with caregivers who want to know more, improve their techniques or update their information with current info about dementias. Having someone with this certification could be handy for a home health organization or a memory care facility, since they can make sure everyone has the same level of knowledge and even help co-workers achieve their required Continuing Education and Training hours, even without having to miss work.
In a home health organization, someone with this advanced level of education can also take time to meet with family members who don’t know what to do about a loved one’s disease and what to expect.
Because new research is always happening, someone with current knowledge could learn new facts and useful information that someone who studied a decade ago may not be aware of.
People with these certifications are encouraged to keep on learning and training others.
What can be shared
People in dementia certification programs are first given an overview of the different types of dementia and how to tell them apart – not all dementias are progressive and not all of them are Alzheimer’s disease.
In some cases, some dementias can be reversed by changing something in the environment, such as diet or potential allergens.
Once you learn about the types of dementias, the certification will include the different phases and what’s happening in the body and the brain.
They also will discuss common signs of aging in seniors and how sometimes the behaviors and actions are similar. Other times they may differ. Age and condition can also have an effect on dementias.
Learn more in June
This month is the perfect opportunity to study more and find out ways to boost your overall knowledge and experiences.
June is Dementia Care Professionals Month, an opportunity to meet people in your community who have this level of training and to share this info with others.