Promoting Positive Interactions

Hello Everyone,

In addition to the information we provided about inappropriate sexual behavior in last week’s tidbit, Dr. Elizabeth Galik, one of the investigators on our study, has written an article on this topic for Bottom Line Health. You can read it online here:

https://bottomlineinc.com/health/memory/dementia-and-inappropriate-sexual-behavior

This week, we’d like to discuss how to approach a resident with challenging behaviors in a way that can result in more positive interactions between the caregiver and resident. For example, if a resident scratches, swears or tries to hit a nursing assistant while she is helping the resident with morning care, how does that experience affect her? How will she approach her next encounter with the resident later in the day?

First, we as caregivers should be mindful that people with the dementia are exhibiting these challenging behaviors because of their disease. By not taking their angry words or actions towards us personally, we can objectively think about effective ways to react to their behavior that can result in increased expressions of wellbeing by the resident. Here are some ideas to help:

  • Before approaching a resident that you know can be challenging based on past experiences, take a deep breath and acknowledge your feelings. Are you angry? Anxious? Frustrated? If you enter the resident’s room while projecting these feelings, the resident will often pick up on them and respond accordingly. Try to “reset” yourself before you approach the resident and start with a clean emotional slate.
  • Put aside your expectations of what the resident will do. These expectations can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.
  • Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of the resident. Are they scared? Frustrated? Sad? In pain? If they aren’t able to articulate their feelings verbally, they will do this through their behavior. Try to figure out what they may be trying to communicate.
  • Remember the TMT-TMT rule: Too Much Talk and Too Much Touch by the caregiver can sometimes over-stimulate and agitate a resident. In these cases, a simple gesture and silent cuing may suffice. Also be aware of your body language. Standing over a resident can result in a “fight or flight” response. How would you feel if someone stood over you and tried to shove a toothbrush in your mouth?
  • Now, smile and take a few minutes to sit eye-to-eye with the resident (not standing over him), and talk about something you know the person enjoys….sports, upcoming holidays, weather, pets, etc. Starting with some brief moments of calm can have a positive impact on the rest of your visit and help establish trust.

You may have heard something similar to this before—while you cannot control the behavior of a person, you CAN control your response to it. Keep this in mind this week and see if this changes the way you interact with some of your residents.

Have a great week!

Tips for reducing bathing stress in residents

Below is a link to an article on Daily Caring.com that has useful tips to remember when helping to bathe a resident who has Alzheimer’s disease. We encourage you to take a quick look and share with staff, as bathing can be a stressful activity for residents and staff alike.

http://dailycaring.com/7-tips-to-get-someone-with-Alzheimers-to-take-a-bath/

We are announcing a fun contest this week for all of you…please email us (vigne1@verizon.net) a brief “tidbit” of your own that describes how you or a staff member at you facility has been creative in getting residents to shower or bathe without a battle.

The facilities that email us the winning tidbit entries will each receive a gift card towards treating staff to lunch! We will also share your idea in a future weekly tidbit so your experience can help others too. We look forward to reading your great ideas….we know you have them to share!

Decreasing use of antipsychotic medications….

We thought you would find this recent article interesting as you and your staff work to improve the lives of your residents with dementia and decrease the use of antipsychotic medications as much as possible. The article discusses the results of several research trials and offers some approaches you may like to try:

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/07/19/537907127/for-dementia-patients-engagement-can-improve-mood-and-quality-of-life

In addition, one of the nursing homes participating in our study, St. Mary’s Villa in Pennsylvania, sent us this tidbit about their use of aromatherapy:

Aromatherapy & tactile stimulation can be used as an activity intervention by spraying lavender scent in the air by using a diffuser in the immediate environment.  It can have a calming effect on residents (and staff too!) and create a relaxed atmosphere.  In addition, one can also massage a simple lotion into a resident’s hands.  This provides the resident with a human touch experience. 

Environmental influence on resident behavior

As promised, here is the first of the “Weekly Tidbits” we’ll be sending every Sunday to provide ideas and motivation to you and your staff as you work to address behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) with your residents. If you’d like additional members of your staff to receive the tidbits, please email Erin Vigne (vigne1@verizon.net), and she will add their email addresses to our list. Please feel free to forward these tidbits to staff, print and post on bulletin boards, or even publish in your facility’s newsletter or on your Facebook page!

This week, we’d like you to think about the environment in your facility and how it may influence behavior and/or encourage or discourage physical activity among your residents. Remember, if we can help residents stay engaged in pleasant ways, then they may be less likely to become anxious, depressed or agitated. They may also feel better if moving a bit more with less pain and generalized achiness.

Look around your common areas. Are there cues that would prompt a staff member to lead residents in physical activity, or do you just see a television? When family members are visiting, do they always sit in the resident’s room and talk, or are they encouraged by staff to take their loved ones for a walk outside where there are benches to rest? Does your activity director have custody of all the fun items that could encourage movement?

Start with common areas, where many residents spend the majority of their day. Consider placing a basket there with foam swim noodles (when cut in half, they are great for resistance exercise!), small weights or elastic bands, and movement scarves to throw and catch. Having these items out in the open can prompt nursing assistants and other staff to start some spontaneous exercise with residents when they are bored or need distraction. Is there a way to play music in common areas? Turn off those TV’s for a while each day and get staff and residents to dance! Staff can bring in their iPods or phones to plug in to speakers and take turns playing their favorite dance tunes.

Next, are your halls dull? Look at your main corridors. Residents use corridors for walking to a destination, exercise, and social interaction. Are there places to rest if it is a long hall? Is the hall cluttered with items that could cause a trip, or limit access to the handrails? Are there pleasant things to look at during a walk? Consider changing artwork periodically and adding art created by residents. Or choose a new theme each month and hang posters down the hall that correlate with the theme. The hall can then become a destination itself, and family members may be more likely to take their loved ones for a stroll. You could host a contest to see who can decorate the best resident door around a certain theme (summer, holidays, sports, etc). Involve staff and family members too, and offer prizes.

We look forward to discussing your ideas at our next meeting. Have a great week!