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Five Key Changes in Dementia Care You Should Know About

Last month our blog covered six reasons why changes in dementia care are needed, as taken from a recent newsletter article entitled “Dementia Care Isn’t What it Used to Be…And That’s a Good Thing Part I” written by Anne Ellett, M.S.N., N.P.

Anne is a respected dementia care expert and the founder of MemoryCareSupport.com, a website which provides information and examines care issues for individuals with dementia.

In Part II of her article, Anne discusses five key changes in dementia care. We’ve summarized them below:

  1. Effecting culture change. The focus is shifting away from defining dementia in terms of memory deficit and loss. And it’s moving towards a focus on retained abilities. Dementia can be managed, and can be lived with. The care model is evolving to support the retention of existing strengths and abilities.
  2. Strengthening the social model. We are waking up to the fact that the bio-medical model does not support the well-being of those living with dementia. Exposing individuals with dementia to unnecessary treatments and medications only serves to increase frailty and disorientation. Forward-thinking care providers are beginning to adopt a “social model”, which focuses on retained abilities and supports maintaining a life of purpose and dignity.
  3. Ending the use of anti-psychotic medications to “manage” behavior. Systematically sedating people with dementia turns them into docile dependents, removing their spark for life. We are learning that changes in behavior, such as an individual becoming agitated, may actually be an attempt to communicate. Responding with anti-psychotic medications to sedate these individuals, poses a serious health risk, and strips them of their dignity.
  4. Supporting in-home care. Innovations in technology have resulted in some great new support solutions that, with the help of family members, nursing and social workers, are allowing people with dementia to remain in their homes as long as possible.
  5. Working towards a more “dementia-friendly” world. Australia and the U.K. are actually leading the effort to educate the public to not only recognize the signs of dementia, but to reach out to those individuals and support their efforts to lead a more normal life.

Anne also makes the point in her article that, while progress is being made, we still have a long way to go. So many memory care communities are quick to proclaim their expertise in Alzheimer’s care. Yet only a handful appear to be investing time and effort in providing new and innovative solutions.

You can read Anne Ellett’s full article here. We applaud the work of visionaries like Anne Ellett and her efforts to remain vigilant on doing her part to bring about badly needed changes in dementia care.