A dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be tough on families and caregivers. Two experts recently partnered to literally re-write the manual for families and caregivers in central Virginia and help them offer a dementia patient the best possible quality of life.
Dr. Barbara Braddock, assistant professor in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, specializes in communication and cognitive disorders. Ellen Phipps, with the Alzheimer’s Association is a therapeutic recreation specialist, which uses leisure activities to improve health. They came together to write the connections manual.
Phipps said, “One of the main points is families need to re-learn how to interact with the person with dementia.”
It starts with figuring out what that person enjoyed doing before their dementia set in.
Phipps stated, “You have to discover what is important to one particular person then you have to understand what functional level they are at.”
Dr. Braddock said, “That’s an easy way to connect with someone especially using their old memory and their procedural memory, their how-to memory, in moving through the activity.”
By using the connections booklet, care givers like Beth Czaplinski of Rosewood Village Assisted Living, can find a way to reach patients in a simple way.
Czaplinski stated, “It keeps them active and they are not sitting in front of the TV just watching their lives go by on the screen.”
If you can choose an engaging activity that taps into the patient’s personality, the results are impressive.
Dr. Braddock said, “There is some research that engaging in meaningful activity will actually decrease apathy, disinterest and even behaviors like anger and aggression.”
The two authors say the book is unique because it lets caregivers tailor a fun activity to the dementia patient, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.
Contact the Western and Central Virginia chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to get a copy of the connections book.