Specializing In Dementia Care, What You Need To Know
If you work in the medical field, you may have received substantial training in care work and gained experience in several settings. However, if you are thinking of specializing in an area such as Dementia care, you'll be joining a very worthy cause. Dementia affects around 50 million people worldwide, with hundreds of elderly patients getting diagnosed each day. So, if you have started training or are unsure if it's the right path, what do you need to know?
What is it?
Firstly, what is dementia, and how does it affect sufferers? Dementia refers to a mental and cognitive disorder that causes a variety of neurological symptoms. In Alzheimer's disease, there are several stages, each getting progressively worse.
Stages 1 and 2 are typically identified by a brain scan that can reveal some changes occurring, but general symptoms are mild. Patients may start forgetting little things such as where they place objects or struggle to think of the correct word in a conversation. It's tricky to diagnose Alzheimer's at this stage as it could be the normal aging process manifesting itself.
Stages 3 and 4 become more noticeable, and sufferers may find it difficult to organize things and have trouble with short-term memory. At these stages, families and friends start to notice, and symptoms may cause distress to the sufferer.
Stages 6 and 7 show a severe cognitive decline and are the most challenging stages for the sufferer and friends, family, and carers. Patients will become entirely dependent on nursing staff and those who care for them, and they will suffer anxiety and confusion. They may need help with personal care, and quality of life becomes minimal.
Understanding what dementia is and the suffering it causes is crucial to becoming a good caregiver. So how can you specialize in this area, and what is available to get you started?
There are many courses and training you can utilize to help you gain an understanding of working with Dementia patients. If you already work in a care setting, discuss with your head of department and ask whether it's something they can assist with as part of your professional development. In addition, many companies will happily fund courses that will benefit them and increase employees' skills.
You can also access classroom-based courses and online study programs to provide a wealth of knowledge to equip you to work with Dementia patients.
Jobs roles that include caring for Dementia patients are varied. For example, you can become a registered nurse who would consist of all caring duties or join a community caring team such as at Brandywine Living Colts Neck, which offers excellent memory care for residents. In addition, you can assist in creating activities to keep residents engaged and happy and significantly improve their quality of life.
You may choose to become a community care worker who visits patient's homes and assists them to lead an independent life for as long as possible. This can be a very rewarding career making a big difference to the life of someone who is advancing in years.
There is also the option of working within a care home setting where you will be assigned several patients to look after. It's a lovely way of building relationships and providing first-class care to tho those in need.
If you are ambitious and want to gain specialist dementia nursing status, you will need at least two years of experience working with patients and be willing to work towards a master's degree. You will need to learn how to make assessments as well as learn all aspects of behavior control.
There may be times during your career that you will have to deal with challenging behavior from Dementia patients. During training, you will learn strategies and develop skills in diffusing situations and dealing with conflict appropriately.
Be sure to establish a routine with your patient. The confusion caused by changes in the brain can be exacerbated by uncertainty or change. Damaged brain cells can make a once calm person behave aggressively. It's important to remember that patients aren't acting with malice. They are simply victims of a cruel disease. This mindset will help you remain calm and patient at all times and treat individuals kindly.
If a patient becomes aggressive, don't argue or get angry. They may say unkind things or use inappropriate words. If possible, try to distract them with activities you know they enjoy and ignore any problematic behavior. If they talk in a delusional way, don't correct them. Instead, use validation theory to help them feel better. Always show compassion and try to find common ground to calm them.
Working with Dementia patients can be emotionally draining, and at times you may feel overwhelmed; what can you do to help yourself?
Caring for other people is extremely rewarding, but you must look after your own physical and mental well-being to function at an optimum level. Taking regular breaks to relax will help recharge your batteries and help keep you positive and happy.
Engaging in physical activity is a great way to stay fit and healthy and provides an opportunity to socialize with others. In addition, mutual support and good friends are vital for mental health, and you should endeavor to keep in touch with loved ones to balance having a demanding job.
Take some time for activities you love, such as reading, walking your dog, having a beauty treatment, or simply having a coffee with a friend. There is no shame in admitting that sometimes you need some space to look after yourself to be the best version during the working day.
Spend some quiet time each day to live in the moment and focus on the breath. Meditation and mindfulness are excellent practices to master and can help deal with stress on a day-to-day basis.
Working in a caring capacity is undoubtedly a rewarding career path. Helping other people live the best life they can with a debilitating illness can bring a lifetime of satisfaction. Likewise, taking care of yourself will enable you to be an invaluable carer appreciated by all.
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