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Dementia Treatments in Nursing Facilities

Many families delay moving a loved one into nursing care until their loved one requires more care. Dementia is a progressive brain disease and with time, the patients become able to remember and do less and less. Symptoms include:
  • memory loss,
  • becoming bedridden and/or wheelchair ridden and
  • loss of motor abilities.

As a result, not all families are able to care for their loved ones when they get to this state. When they can’t, they often decide to move their loved one into a maximum care nursing home.

How Nursing Home Facilities Treat Dementia

Some of the basic expectations of a nursing home include

  • proper nutritional intake,
  • pain management,
  • social engagement prevention of wandering, and
  • prevention of slip and fall.

Patients in the advanced states of dementia are often no longer able to properly communicate when they are in pain. As a result, nursing staff should know and watch for any tells or cues that might relate to pain.

Day-to-Day Care

Nursing care facilities are required to provide simple and stimulating activities on an ongoing basis. These are designed to delay the loss of memory function. Most residents usually attend at least a couple at some point or the other. However, if the patient absolutely prefers solitude, this must be respected as well.

However, mealtimes are also another great chance for residents to socialize with each other. Aside from managing nutritional intake, nursing staff must also monitor the residents’ hydration levels. Dementia patients tend not to make the best nutritional choices on their own, which can directly trigger a faster decline in the patient’s overall health. This is why it’s essential for the nursing care staff to ensure a healthy diet for residents and to prevent family members or friends from bringing in anything that wouldn’t contribute to the patient’s health.

Dementia Risks

When a patient with dementia enters into nursing care, it is vital for the nursing staff to not only assess the patient’s current physical health but also to extensively assess current communication abilities, cultural preferences, and personal backgrounds. Thorough assessment of current sensory and motor functioning is the key to preventing a slip and fall.

Even something as small as knowing how a patient likes their morning coffee can be the key to providing them with a sense of home. This kind of comfort is what often helps delay the progression. At this stage in their life, they are becoming less and less capable of adjusting to new routines and they may also not necessarily realize that things at the nursing care facility will not be the same as they were at their previous homes. This also helps prevent triggers for negative behavior, the sense of learned helplessness, and depression.

Also, when a patient develops negative behavioral symptoms-due to their lack of ability to properly communicate pain anymore-that were not previously present, it could actually be a sign of pain. Unfortunately, this often results in an unnecessary and overuse of psychotropic medications without treating the actual problem at hand. As a result, it might be best to rule out any possible pain first whenever new negative behaviors show up.

Fall Risks

Patients with advanced dementia are at very high risk for falls due to neurological impairment that wasn’t there before. Nursing homes work to minimize the risk of falls. But make sure that your loved one receives the care they require.

Wandering Risks

Currently, it is believed that the two major reasons behind unsafe wandering are the need for social contact or to alleviate environmental or psychological discomfort. At least some may also feel that their facility’s environment is too small and they want to be out exploring the bigger world in the way that they used to. However, especially if they happen to go into an environment that’s unfamiliar to them, they become even more disoriented, which increases their risk of wandering in circles and forgetting how to get back to their facility. Support of the resident’s desire for movement should actually be encouraged as this helps to delay loss of their motor functions. It’s simply that they need safer ways to wander.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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