Nursing home residents with dementia require a specialized type of support founded in respect, understanding and proactive care. Caregivers must understand the perspective of demented patients, and commit to being with them “where they are” rather than where the caregiver is. People with dementia are still human beings; they are whole individuals that should be treated as equals.
Instead of ‘reacting’ to needs or poor behaviors, it is important that caregivers learn to connect with patients, building on their strengths and taking time to just be with them, sit with them, and listen to them. Often, what is perceived as poor behavior is simply expressive responses to the deficit that exists between a patient’s needs and the extent to which caregivers meet those needs.
In 2005, J. Cohen-Masfield and J.E. Mintzer published a paper about the benefits of non-pharmocological interventions in nursing home residents with dementia. In it, they wrote:
“Evidence shows that a large proportion of these so-called behavior problems stem from an incongruence between the needs of people who suffer from dementia and the degree to which their environment fulfills those needs. Thus, many “problematic behaviors” represent a cry for help, a result of unmet needs, or an inadequate attempt to fulfill those needs.”
At Brighter Day Health, we recognized the individuality of our patients and aim to help them feel validated as human beings – not just a number in the system. We work with facility staff members to help them better connect with their patients and eliminate the barriers that often separate patients with dementia from healthcare providers.
(1) Cohen-Mansfield, J. & Mintzer, J. E. (2005). Time for change: The role of non-pharmacological interventions in treating behavior problems in nursing home residents with dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders, 19(1), 37-40.