Treating Dementia Differently

JoAnnJoAnn Westbrook Westbrook, N.H.A., Certified PAC Trainer and Director of the Education and Training Institute at the Pines of Sarasota came to Alderman to speak on dementia and how we approach those who have it. JoAnn uses the approaches she learned from Teepa Snow, an expert on dealing with dementia, to inform caregivers how to easily handle daily tasks. She explained how over time, dementia robs the person of who they once were and how one might see new behaviors appear that can be puzzling or shocking.

People like JoAnn Westbrook and Teepa Snow are revolutionizing the world of dementia. They have studied the patterns and behaviors that develop alongside the disease and are finding ways to combat it. JoAnn offered an explanation and tips for reducing challenging behaviors such as anger, swearing, hallucinations, or aggressive outbursts a caregiver may experience while caring for a loved one or resident. JoAnn informed her audience, “Always keep in mind that these behaviors are caused by the dementia, not the person in your care. Dementia is not a memory problem, but active brain failure.”

She also briefly touched on how one habit caregivers should really adapt into their mindset is the skill to not take things personally. “As hard as it may be,” JoAnn reminded,” tell yourself that the cursing or anger that seems to be directed at you is really a symptom of dementia, the disease plaguing your loved one. This may help you feel at least a little better when a frustrating behavior occurs, and it can help protect the relationship between you and the person in your care.”

This disease affects everything from vision to memory. The person suffering from it is not suddenly “dumb” or “forgetful” but rather struggling to hold onto the life they knew while battling the side effects of brain failure. As caregivers, friends, family, and even just onlookers, remember to be kind to everyone involved with this disease. Be kind to yourself, and be kind to the person suffering from dementia.

For more information about dementia and how to care for it, be sure to visit the Pines of Sarasota website.

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