Staying Abreast Of Current Alzheimer’s And Dementia Care: The Importance Of Education
Pegasus skilled in-home caregivers in Antelope Valley and elsewhere assist individuals with diverse conditions. Some of their senior clientele have Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Career home health care nurses know the importance of education in providing the best care for these special individuals.
Dementia Has Several Types, Causes, And Symptoms
Non-medical people often refer to any loss of cognitive ability in their loved ones as Alzheimer’s. As a nurse, you know there’s more than one kind of dementia. Use the following descriptions to help family caregivers better understand their loved one’s condition:
- Alzheimer’s: the most common type of dementia, it’s due to damage to neurons and connecting fibers. It’s progressive and characterized by memory loss.
- Vascular dementia: it’s caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain. Symptoms include decreased ability to think and focus more than memory loss.
- Lewy body dementia: also a progressive disease, it’s caused by clumps of proteins that affect brain chemicals. Loved ones are subject to hallucinations, inability to focus, and uncoordinated movements. Some individuals experience tremors and muscle rigidity.
- Frontotemporal dementia: it’s the result of damaged nerves in the frontal and temporal sections of the brain. It causes changes in personality, behavior, and language.
- Mixed dementia: as the name implies, it’s more than one of the above dementias.
The differences impact care. It’s crucial that, as a home health care nurse, you ensure that your patient has the correct diagnosis.
The level of assistance required for dementia patient care depends on the individual’s type and severity of symptoms. Symptoms such as those below challenge families and your skills:
- Impaired ability to communicate
- Inappropriate behavior
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Restlessness or sundowning (wandering)
- Refusal to eat or drink
In most cases, as the disease progresses, these or other symptoms will escalate. Loved ones eventually become unable to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) and need increasing levels of care.
Alzheimer’s And Dementia Care Resources
Resources that provide factual information about dementia include:
- Alzheimer’s Disease International – compiles worldwide statistics. The data reveal that shame is associated with dementia. Many family members hide the fact that a loved one has dementia. Your role as an in-home caregiver includes helping them recognize and accept the condition.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention – emphasizes that dementia is not a normal part of aging. It also lists tips for maintaining brain health.
- National Institute on Aging – discusses the relationship between lifestyle factors and cognitive decline. It also has information on participating in Alzheimer’s clinical trials.
- World Health Organization – includes a description of the stages of dementia progression. You can use this to help family caregivers prepare for their loved one’s loss of abilities.
The sites help to dispel the myths surrounding dementia.
Resources For Basic Dementia Care Education
Obtaining dementia care education helps you improve the quality of life for your patients. The following sites provide basic information, which can fill in any blanks in your knowledge:
- Alzheimer’s Association – includes resources in English and Spanish, and in online forums.
- HelpGuide – focuses on the challenges and rewards of dementia care for family caregivers.
- National Institutes of Health – comprehensive tips for keeping dementia patients comfortable and safe.
- Northwest Regional Council – a source of downloadable booklets and caregiver kits, with suggestions for matters like documentation. Resources are available in English, Russian, and Spanish.
- UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program – offers more than a dozen free videos about symptoms. Most are available in English and Spanish, and some in other languages.
These and similar resources are helpful to family caregivers as well.
Resources For Advanced Dementia Care Training
For advanced professional training, consider the following:
- Act On Alzheimer’s: The site contains videos, handouts, and other resources, covering a variety of categories. The dementia education section features webinars on topics such as Managing Dementia through the Continuum. Video tutorials are “presented in clinical settings with real patients” and “represent the best and emerging dementia care practices.”
- Alzheimer’s Association Clinical Education Center: Nine online courses are available without charge on the site. Several of them offer CME credit.
- Health Resources and Services Administration: Their training is presented in 27 modules. Most include a PowerPoint presentation and pdf handouts with references, faculty guides, and directions for obtaining CME credits. Others address caregiver needs and how to care for themselves and their loved one. All material is web-based.
- National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners: There is a wealth of information available for those “who value dementia education.” You can subscribe to their newsletter for Alzheimer’s and dementia news. Their training resources lead to various certifications, such as Certified Personal Care Home Care Professional®. The seminars and training sessions are currently available online. To access all their programs, you will need to become an associate member for $135 annually.
Home health care nurses who specialize in dementia care will find these of particular benefit.
Pegasus in-home caregivers in Antelope Valley and our other locations know the value of continuing their education. That’s part of providing quality care to their clientele. Our career home health care nurses use their knowledge to improve the quality of life for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.