It is currently estimated that 5.1 million people age 65 or older have Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to increase by 40% (7.1 million) by 2025 and triple (13.8 million) by 2050. These staggering facts mean that the residents in your care, now and in the future, are more likely to be battling this disease.

Help your staff develop the skills and insight necessary for assisting residents that are coping with Alzheimer’s with these fundamentals of Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

Every Resident is Unique

Each person with Alzheimer’s dementia is unique. The severity of symptoms and the amount of support needed will change over time. Encourage your staff to learn as much as they can about each resident, including their life story, preferences, and abilities.

Pain Management

Treat pain as the “fifth vital sign” by routinely assessing it as you would blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and temperature.

Ensure Proper Nutrition & Fluids

Resident’s coping with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia may suffer from poor nutrition or hydration due to a loss or decreased recognition of hunger and thirst signals. It’s up to their team of caregivers to ensure proper food and fluid intake so that residents remain healthy and avoid unnecessary health complications.

Keep Residents Engaged

Meaningful and engaging activities help residents maintain their functional abilities and enhance quality of life. Offer opportunities each day to participate in activities with personal, individual appeal, a sense of community, and fun. Focus on activities that caregivers can do with residents, not for residents.

Become Dementia Aware

Often times a resident may exhibit symptoms associated with dementia, including memory loss or confusion. While dementia may be the first thing you think of, it could be other underlying causes.

  • Age-related Decline – Mild memory impairment and processing information more slowly
  • Depression –This condition can impair a resident’s thinking – even resulting in poor nutrition or hydration – much like dementia
  • New Medication – Reaction to new medication, medication side effects, or drug interactions can lead to changed behavior which often mimics dementia symptoms
  • Nutrition Deficiency – People who lack certain nutrients like B6 or B12 can suffer from impaired mental abilities
  • Illness – Heart and lung issues – even infections due to fever – can cause confusion, impaired judgement, or memory loss

Continuing Education Opportunities

Provide opportunities for continual staff training. Focus on topics that help your staff communicate with residents who have Alzheimer’s, manage challenging behaviors, support family members and take care of themselves while dealing with the challenges that accompany caring for residents with dementia.

For additional information on helping your residents coping with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, refer to SeniorLivingU’s collection of Alzheimer’s monthly in-service resources.