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Approaches for Seniors with Dementia Behavior

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overcoming senior dementia behavior

By Rose Fabrick, Certified Senior Advisor at Concierge Care Advisors

It is difficult to understand how the brain works for senior loved one with late stage Dementia. The symptoms come with and without behavioral issues. It’s a challenge to know how to approach and calm the agitation or obsessive behavior that can express itself with advanced dementia.

I wanted to share the brave actions of daughter “Sherry” as she faced the challenge of supporting and advocating for her mother. As her mother’s dementia progressed, she obsessed about her dogs needing to be fed all the time. Sherry made the tough decision to remove the dogs from the home because it was impacting the health of the dogs, and Mom was simply not able to care for them. Although the dogs were no longer there, Sherry’s Mom still wanted to feed the dogs; asking for the dogs, over and over during the day and night. Repetitive, obsessive behavior that exhausted Sherry.

Sherry’s Mom was sent to a hospital for several weeks to see if her behavior could be managed. Upon discharge from the hospital, Sherry’s Mom needed 24/7 eyes-on care and support. Therefore, returning home was no longer a safe option. I worked with Sherry to find her Mom a loving and compassionate Adult Family Home, who provided her the care and support she needed, and also met her financial budget. Sherry worked closely and cooperatively with the Adult Family Home staff to find ways to soothe her Mom’s agitation. Instead of fighting against what her mother wanted, they accepted it as long as it did not harm her. Her mother did not want to sleep on the bed. She had spent several days confined to a bed in the hospital, which likely scared her. At the Adult family Home, she wanted to sleep on the floor. They put the mattress on the floor, where she slept. She wanted to be on the floor, likely to be close to her dogs. While she was at the hospital, pillows were put on the floor to mimic beds for her dogs. As long as she saw the pillows, she knew her dogs were safe and comfortable. The same was done at the Adult Family Home. Her dogs were important to her, and she believed they were still with her. Sherry and the staff at the Adult Family Home supported her Mom’s love of her dogs.

Sherry mentioned that she accessed the website for Teepa Snow to learn about care approaches for those with dementia. Teepa Snow is renowned for developing the care strategies and techniques that look at what is known about brain function and integrates that information with therapeutic approaches. These approaches foster positive outcomes, encourage alteration of task expectations, and create supportive environments that match retained and available abilities of people living with various forms of brain change and deterioration. She teaches about the value of connection, when primary verbal communication and interaction abilities are altered.

I viewed one of her training videos. It showed a woman who had a noisy shaker/rattle, which she was constantly moving over the chairs in a room. Her behavior caused a disturbance for the other residents. Why was she doing this? Learning about the woman’s background, Teepa uncovered the woman cleaned homes as a profession. She was cleaning the chairs with the shaker. Rather than forcing the shaker from her, Teepa suggested to the caregivers to compliment the woman on the great job she was doing, participate in the cleaning of the chairs using a soft cloth, and then exchange the noisy shaker for the soft cloth, and let her continue her cleaning. The approach allows the caregiver to understand and manage the behavior while minimizing agitation for the resident.

Teepa Snow and Positive Approach to Care website can be found:

You can also find several of Teepa Snows training videos on YouTube.

Teepa Snow will be in Seattle on February 19, 2019 for a workshop entitled Positive Approach to Care. It is scheduled from 1-5pm and will be hosted by Queen Anne Manor, Seattle.

Written by
Concierge Care Advisors

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