To assist our volunteers and to help us become a more dementia friendly church, Tasha took some notes following Paula McCabe’s training session – they are reproduced below:
What is Dementia
– Brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen
– It can be a slow process to fully manifest – even as long as 20 years
Types of Dementia
– There are two types – Alzheimer’s & Vascular
– The menopause can cause 30% memory loss
– Loss of long-term memory – we usually remember something for 15 minutes unless a ‘big’ or significant event
puts it into our long-term memory
– Wandering off
– Sequencing tasks are difficult
– Language – can’t find the word for…
– Falls – 3D objects can be difficult to visually and physically navigate e.g. patterned carpets can look like undulating waves
– Forgetting to eat
– Refusing to eat – as brain thinks it has already eaten
– Emotional – easily upset, especially if out of normal routine
– Emotions from the past will stay the same – if they felt comfortable with you in the past, they will trust you and remember
this about you
Advice / Care / How to bring comfort, happiness, safety
– When someone can’t remember the word for something, ask them to describe it
– Use the care staff as they know the individual
Ask simple/concrete questions tactfully but not too many so as not to overwhelm (best in bold).
– Where are you from?’
– ‘Would you like to see…’
– ‘Was today a good day?’
– ‘Have you eaten?’
– ‘Have you slept?’
– ‘Would you like to light a candle?’
– ‘Would you like communion?’
– ‘Shall we say a prayer?’ (Prayers can be in the long-term memory)
-Don’t ask too many questions, especially not those asking for more detail
Keep it simple – one idea at a time e.g.
– ‘Let’s look at this, (then we can go and do that)’
If they are upset, stay with them in the moment, reassure with e.g.
– ‘It’s upsetting, isn’t it?’
– ‘It will be ok’
Distraction can be good
– Keep an eye on their comfort, they won’t say if they’re cold or tired etc.
– Don’t patronise them – talk to them, not their carer
– Be calm, unhurried
– Use pictures from the past to ‘jog old memories’ e.g. old Wallasey /old Dome/ previous priests.
These can be laminated for extra use and sanitising purposes
– Use pictures to help communication – e.g. have a picture of a toilet and a drink
– Noisy crowds can be upsetting – keep tours to 1 to 2 people
– Hold their interest by giving them an object to hold whilst you’re talking about that topic
– Watch their body language
– Give them ample time to talk
– If you don’t understand fully then ask, ‘Tell me that again, that was really interesting’.
– Serve pink wafers, bourbon biscuits and sausage rolls!
– Don’t be afraid of distressing them, it comes with the condition, it’s not your fault
– This is a great help as many people deteriorate more easily in a nursing home due to losing skills from everyday routine
– Laugh together, they need to get a good feeling from you e.g.
– ‘We’re all muddled aren’t we’
– Remember, people feel content when they feel safe
– Consider music and incense – hearing and smell stay longest before we die
– Sensory experiences are great
– Time, attention, treats – can make a huge impact
– Safety / Comfort
– Risk Assess the physical environment
– Help them over steps
– Cushions on pews
– Good lighting
– Say where toilet is
– Put someone by the door in case of wandering off
– Respectfully ask carers re safety – e.g.
– ‘We think this is safe – can we ask you what you think for …’
– ‘Can I pop you by the altar for safety?’