Educating family members of your residents about your efforts to reduce the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia through person-centered behavioral approaches is critical. Family members can support staff and be a useful resource when determining what may motivate a resident to participate in his/her own care and engage in activity, and thereby decrease agitation, apathy and resistiveness to care.
One of the ways you can educate family members is by including information in your facility’s newsletter or other regular mailing or email to your residents’ loved ones. Below is a pre-written piece to help get you started:
Research repeatedly shows that older adults can improve their physical and mental health, slow cognitive decline, and increase their ability to participate in personal care needs like bathing and dressing by engaging in regular physical activity. Physical activity can also help decrease symptoms of dementia such as agitation, aggression, resistiveness to care and depression. Even short spurts of 10 minutes of activity can result in significant physical and emotional benefits. Being able to care for oneself as much as possible also helps preserve the dignity and independence that we all hope for as we age.
With this in mind, our staff will be working with your loved one to participate as much as possible in personal care activities and to engage in physical activities such as walking or self-propelling in their wheelchair to the dining room or doing some stretching and strengthening exercises while waiting for meals. You can help too. Go for a walk with your loved one when you visit, or ask a staff member to show you some exercises you can do with them while you visit. Ask their caregiver what activity goals they have for them and encourage your loved one as they try to reach their goals. Finally, support your family member’s caregivers as they use their knowledge and skills to involve your loved one in their care and other activities in order to transform expressions of distress into expression of well-being—a goal we all share.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about working with family as we move forward.