What was the Inspiration behind this post?
Last week I had a doctor’s appointment with my primary care doctor. It was a 3 pm appointment. Here it was almost 4 pm and I was just getting called. When my doctor saw me, she immediately apologized and told me the reason for the delay. She said that today many of her patients had dementia, and those appointments take longer than the other appointments, yet they are scheduled for the same amount of time. My doctor knows I work in senior living, so she felt comfortable telling me her feedback of her experience with dementia patients. My Doctor told me that she spends a large part of the appointment counseling her dementia patients and their families. She also told me, the most frustrating part of her appointments with those with dementia, is explaining to them, that there is little she can do medically to alleviate the symptoms caused by dementia. She said many family members for instance notice their loved one with dementia has suddenly lost weight, and they want a prescription to combat that. She then has to give them the disappointing news that weight loss caused by dementia is a comprehensive symptom and can’t be fixed over night with a prescription. Needless to say, she was very excited to hear about Orchard’s Brand New 4 Tier Nutrition Therapy Program coming in 2018. For more information about Nutrition Therapy for Dementia please visit: http://stage-osl.daveminotti.com/final-stages-of-nutrition-therapy-development-for-dementia-residents/, as well as http://stage-osl.daveminotti.com/nutrition-therapy-at-each-level-of-dementia-care/
What Does Dementia Sensitive Primary Care Mean?
Dementia Sensitive Primary Care, are primary care services that are provided solely to individuals living with dementia. These services are provided by professionals that specialize in dementia, and in many cases only treat those with dementia. This type of care can be provided in a clinic or by a mobile service, by a medical professional ranging from a Nurse Practitioner to a Doctor. This clinic and or professional is designed to replace a person’s primary care provider that they had prior to the dementia.
What is an Example of Dementia Sensitive Primary Care Center?
The Integrated Memory Care Clinic, located in Atlanta, is a nationally-recognized patient-centered clinic that provides primary care for someone living with dementia. The clinic provides a variety of services to meet the challenging needs of those living with dementia. Whether the patient living with dementia has a cold, needs a vaccine, or has a change in behavior, the clinic can help. Dementia and other chronic conditions are managed exclusively by nurse practitioners who collaborate with geriatricians and neurologists on the team. The nurse practitioners have advanced training and specializations in dementia, geriatrics, and palliative care. A clinical social worker is also a vital member of the team. I personally know people that are patients at The Integrated Memory Care Clinic, and I know some of the professionals that manage it. I can say this clinic does an absolutely amazing job, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for Dementia Sensitive Primary Care.
Can Dementia Sensitive Primary Care be done outside of a clinic?
The answer is yes. I personally work with several medical groups that provide concierge dementia sensitive care in a person’s home. They can go to someone’s home or to their community. The group I work with closest has a team of professionals that provide the care. Their team is made up of a Geriatric Psychiatrist, a Nurse Practitioner and a Doctor trained in dementia care, as well as an Occupational and Speech Therapist. These professionals work as a team to define the patient’s cognitive, functional and behavioral profile, and create a care plan to manage their care. The extent to which each specific professional sees the patient depends on the patient’s needs and their profile. These services are offered in a person’s home, and at the Orchard, or another community.
Why do we need Dementia Sensitive Primary Care for those with Dementia?
Currently, 50-90% of all dementia gets misdiagnosed or gets missed all together until a crisis happens. Even if Primary Care Professionals start to more accurately recognize dementia, the quality of management of the disease after the diagnosis is usually sub optimal. Even if a PCP can diagnose dementia, in many cases they do not have a plan for follow up management. After dementia is diagnosed, there needs to be a plan of care set up to address potentially starting dementia-specific drug treatment to slow the decline, assessment and management of Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD), safety issues in and out of the home, side effects of psychotropic drugs, as well as the stress of family care givers. Most Primary Care Professionals today are not equipped to provide follow up dementia care. These PCPs are missing the coordination of primary healthcare partners, as well as the implementation of support for both people with dementia and their caregivers. Hopefully in the next few years, more Integrated Memory Care Clinics will spring up, and more people with dementia will receive the Dementia Sensitive Primary Care they need.
How does Dementia effect a person’s ability to enjoy their hobbies and participate in activities?
What is Nutrition Therapy and who can benefit from it?
Eating and enjoying a meal is part of our everyday life and important to everybody, not least to people living with dementia. A healthy diet and nutrition is fundamental to well being at any stage of life and to helping to combat other life-threatening diseases. We believe it plays as important a role in relation to dementia progression, and a resident’s quality of life. Under-nutrition is common among older people generally, particularly common among people with dementia. Under nutrition tends to be progressive, with weight loss often preceding the onset of dementia and then increasing in pace as the disease progresses. The mechanisms underlying weight loss and under nutrition in dementia are complex, multi factorial, and unique to each person. Common reasons include reduced appetite, increased activity, the need for a modified diet and, decreased nutrient absorption. For some forms of dementia, it may be that central regulation of appetite and metabolism is disturbed as an inherent feature of the disease. Although we can’t avoid these symptoms which lead to malnutrition and under nutrition, we can manage them with a variety of Nutrition Therapy Options. Orchard at Tucker’s Nutrition Therapy Program is designed to help combat under nutrition and bring back the joy of eating to those who have lost it.
We are in the Final Testing Stages..
After many months of work with our team and partnering dieticians, Orchard Senior Living is in the Final Testing Stage of our 4 Part Nutrition Therapy Program. Today’s enriched smoothies were a huge hit. These enriched smoothies are designed to help those in the moderate to severe stage of dementia, who have lost significant weight in the last 6 months, and for whom all other care and environmental modifications have failed. Each 4 oz pretty glass delivered 240 calories, 9 grams of Organic Protein, and so much more. Most importantly each glass looked and tasted amazing!
Challenges at mealtime are extremely common for those with dementia. These mealtime challenges will change as dementia progresses. There are distinct and separate challenges that are associated with early, middle and late stage dementia.
What are the common mealtime challenges for those in the Early Stage of Dementia?
- Loss of concentration
- Changes in food preferences
- Reporting that foods taste bland (foods previously enjoyed)
- No longer enjoying favorite restaurants
- Unable to hold attention through a meal
- Distracted by the environment at mealtime
What are the common mealtime challenges for those in the Moderate Stage of Dementia?
- Confusion and unawareness of surroundings, place and time
- Appetite increase and weight gain
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Failure to understand proper use of utensils
- Refusal to sit during meal times- pacing, wandering
- Increased difficulty with word finding and decision making
- Unable to recognize food temperatures
- Unable to see food as food (may think food is poisoned)
- Unable to recognize food items once liked
- Hiding of food
What are the common mealtime challenges for those in the Severe Stage of Dementia?
- Preference for liquids over solids, due to appetite change or lack of swallowing ability
- Aggressive or combative behaviors during a meal
- Clenches jaw, or closed fist when attempting to feed or be fed
- Refusal to eat due to unknown reasons (variety reasons could be at play)
- Inability to self feed, not being used to being fed
- Swallowing impairments ranging from mild to severe
- Weight loss despite regular caloric intake (can also be due to increase activity due to increased anxiety)
What are some important tips for a creating a dining environment for those with Dementia?
- Tableware contrast ( avoid white plates on white linens)
- Too many utensils
- Avoid high gloss floors
- Natural light is best
- Avoid a distracting dining environment with too many items on the table
- Make sure the table and chair is sturdy, and of the right height
- Simplified dining room is best
- All food served at once is usually best (although there are some exceptions)
- Offer finger foods (avoid finger food that are too intricate or rare)
What if the above tips do not work?
If the above tips do not help with the challenges presented at mealtime, your team needs to take further steps to make sure that nutritional needs are met and your resident with Dementia is getting adequate caloric intake and the necessary nutrition.
The first thing your team needs to do is to do a full assessment of each person’s unique situation and determine the specific deficiencies caused by the mealtime challenges. During the assessment your team must set goals and prioritize the deficiencies, identify resources needed based on the severity of a person’s challenges. Your team needs to also identify possible behavioral and nutrition interventions such as a change of dining environment. Finally your team should specify the time and frequency of the intervention.
Please check back soon for Part II of this article
What is Dementia?
Dementia is the loss of many or all cognitive abilities, such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning, as well as behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.
What happens to many caregivers of loved one’s with Dementia?
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be challenging and, at times, overwhelming. Frustration is a normal and valid emotional response to many of the difficulties of being a caregiver. While some irritation may be part of everyday life as a caregiver, many caregivers feel feelings of extreme frustration. Frustration and stress negatively impact their physical health and may cause a caregiver to be physically or verbally aggressive towards their loved one.
What are the Warning Signs of caregiver frustration?
Shortness of breath or knot in the throat
Stomach cramps or chest pains
Headache which could be severe
Compulsive eating or excessive alcohol consumption
Increased smoking or drug use
Lack of patience or the desire to strike out
- Sleepless Nights
Why is dementia education important for families caring for loved ones with dementia?
Dementia is called a family disease, because the chronic stress of watching a loved one slowly decline affects everyone. Education helps caregivers understand their loved one’s challenging behaviors and how to respond to them correctly. Often starting out caregivers use intuition to help decide how to respond to a challenging behavior. Unfortunately, dealing with Dementia is counter intuitive, and often the right thing to do is exactly opposite of what seems like the right thing to do. Caregiver education also helps families understand the progression of their loved ones disease. They will learn what to expect and therefore have an opportunity to prepare for these changes. Changes in their loved one’s cognitive abilities wont be a shock every time they happen, because a caregiver will be prepared for them to happen. Caregivers will also learn which skills are typically retained the longest and can tailor their interactions with their loved ones’ based on these abilities.
How can communities help educate dementia care givers?
- community workshops and educational forums
lecture series followed by discussion
skill-building groups, case studies
individual counseling and training
technology-based training that can be done at home
At Orchard Senior Living, we find all of the above methods useful. Each of these methods should be utilized by a community whose priorities are to provide comprehensive dementia care to their residents and their family caregivers. Currently we offer our 3 Step Navigating the Transition Program to individual and families. We also offer our monthly 2 hour Live and Learn Series which combines skill building, lecture, discussion, as well as an educational forum. Both of these programs are presented by a dementia specialist, specializing in family counseling and dementia training. We also offer a support group facilitated by a Clinical Social Worker. We are currently in the final stages of bringing a web based training program to our residents’ family members to help them on a daily basis. We believe comprehensive dementia care is more than the traditional model of a secure memory care, care partners helping with ADLs, and an Activity Calendar. Comprehensive Dementia Care is taking care of a resident and their families from the time prior to a move in, as well as throughout their entire journey. To find out about the Comprehensive Care Programming at the Orchard call us at 404-775-0488 for a private counseling appointment to determine how we can help. If we can’t help you in your unique situation, will will provide you with the information for those who can.
Determining if your loved one needs additional nutrition care or nutrition therapy starts with a nutrition assessment.
What is Nutrition Assessment?
Nutrition assessment is a process that nutritionist or dietitian uses to evaluate your nutrition level and determining your current nutrition needs. Your nutrition level ranges from great to extremely deficient. The first step is to determine your individual nutrition needs for optimal health. This step includes knowing a thorough history of your diet, lifestyle, medical, chronic conditions. The second step is the evaluation of your nutrition status, calorie, protein and nutrient needs, adequacy of your diet, possible deficiencies or food intolerance(s), need for further testing, recommendations for diet and lifestyle changes and supplements.
Your Nutrition Assessment looks at all these areas:
- Diet history
- History of Weight Loss
- Recent illnesses or Diagnosis
- Lifestyle history
- Medical history (such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s)
- Evaluation of blood and diagnostic tests
- Recommendations for testing (testing for allergies, for vitamin deficiencies)
- Evaluation of nutrition status (how serious is the deficiency)
- Calorie needs (based on height, weight, activity level, sex)
- Protein needs
- Nutrient needs
- Adequacy of your diet
- Possible diet deficiencies
- Food intolerance
Identifying malnutrition is an important first step in identifying a problem. Eating and enjoying a meal is part of our everyday life and important to everybody, not least to people living with dementia. A healthy diet and nutrition is fundamental to well being at any stage of life and to helping to combat other life-threatening diseases. Under nutrition is common among older people generally, particularly common among people with dementia. Under nutrition tends to be progressive, with weight loss often preceding the onset of dementia and then increasing in pace as the disease progresses. Although we can’t avoid these symptoms which lead to malnutrition and under nutrition, we can manage them with a variety of Nutrition Therapy Options. Orchard at Tucker’s 2018 Nutrition Therapy Program is designed to help combat under nutrition and bring back the joy of eating to those who have lost it. However it all starts with an nutrition assessment.