Dementia is a term that’s used to describe a wide range of symptoms that are associated with a decline in mental functionality. Dementia mostly affects memory, communication and language, the ability to focus, and reasoning in individuals who are affected by it.
A recent study shows that there are roughly 546,000 Canadians currently living with dementia, about 65 per cent of which are over the age of 65. It’s a condition that really affects day-to-day living as it progresses, and many sufferers require assistance to maintain their independence.
If you’re planning to pursue personal support worker (PSW) training, chances are you’ll provide assistance to a good number of people with dementia throughout your career. Read on for a few strategies that could really help your approach to providing care to clients with dementia.
1. Practice Safety with Dementia Clients After Personal Support Worker Training
Safety precautions in long-term care facilities are a little bit easier to implement, since individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s are typically supervised by several staff members around the clock. After earning your PSW diploma, you might work for an agency where you’ll be providing individuals who have dementia with assistance in their homes, and here are a couple of examples of safety precautions you can take.
Always have contact information such as family members and doctors handy while visiting with clients who have dementia. Since they may suffer from memory loss, you can’t expect them to remember information like phone numbers during an emergency.
You’ll learn during personal support worker training that people with dementia have a changing sense of time and judgement when it comes to everyday tasks. For this reason, it’s important to supervise them when handling scissors, stovetops, or anything that could potentially harm them or others. In some cases, you might need to keep them away from such objects or activities altogether.
2. Change Perspective with Approaches that You’ll Learn in a Personal Support Worker Program
With declining cognitive function, it’s important to remember that sometimes, people with dementia lash out. Their memory lapses could result in frustration that comes out on you, so there may be times where you’re yelled at or called names.
An important approach that you’ll learn when studying in a personal support worker program is to not take instances like these personally. Dementia can cause individuals to become angry or confused, and so if ever one of your clients acts rudely, remember that it’s their illness talking, not them.
Another great approach is to let your compassionate nature shine through. Some clients may be frustrated because they’re new in a facility, for example, and can’t seem to get their bearings. By taking their side and being their friend, rather than being authoritative, you can help ease their worries and get them through tough situations.
3. Never Forget to Ask for Help when Working with Clients who Have Dementia
Dementia is often a progressive illness, meaning that the symptoms that some individuals live with can get worse over time. Doctors can come up with new treatment plans, medications, and care instructions for patients with dementia, so it’s important to seek their advice.
Getting information from doctors and other members of the healthcare staff can help you a great deal when working with clients who have dementia. With updated knowledge you’ll be able to adjust your routine, safety measures, and levels of assistance accordingly so that you can continue to provide the best care possible.
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