Keep In Mind Blog

Dementia Care -Trick or Treat? 5 ‘spooky spells’ to avoid….

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Searching for Dementia Care?

Currently, the United States is in the midst of a Silver Tsunami. As the Boomers grey and their parents shoot for centenarian status; the elder-care marketplace is thriving.

New products and improved service options abound. And, with this growth comes an aggressive group of folks who are charged with selling the products and services to the overwhelmed and under-informed consumers.

Unfortunately, too often, folks are thrust into caregiving. A catastrophic event, pushes them into crisis mode and it’s under these stressful conditions; where most of the initial inquiries into long-term living and specialized service options occur.

Creating a recipe for disaster.

Deciding on where your loved one will live for their remaining years on earth, isn’t a decision that should be made quickly and under duress. Wouldn’t YOU want someone to give immense thought and careful consideration on your behalf, if you were unable to do so?

With Halloween looming; here are 5 ‘spooky spells’ for consumers to consider when attempting to make informed decisions.

 #1 – Person Centered Care Currently, a HOT buzz word in dementia care.  The true definition of person centered care means that careful consideration is given to the likes, dislikes, capabilities and past history of the person needing the care. Activity programs would be specialized and customized to meet the needs of the individual. Meals would be prepared, to honor their cultural and regional preferences. However, too often these criteria aren’t met, even though the claims are made. Consumers should ask for proof and specific examples of how the organization ‘delivers’ their person centered approach. It’s not enough to simply fill out the pages of paperwork, that consumers are often asked to complete; detailing past history, family information, etc – if that document will simply be filed away – never to be reviewed again.

 #2 – The Activity Calendar – Consumers are frequently shown impressive activity calendars during a tour. Often, they are mounted in lovely frames and hung prominently within the space. However, unless the activities are actually happening on schedule and as listed, this promise is a missed opportunity. Again, consumers are encouraged to ask for proof and specific examples of how the activities are delivered. Ask to see pictures of the last party, event or celebration. Or, better yet; review the calendar and make another impromptu (and unscheduled) visit to see for yourself if the activity is happening as described. Sometimes activities must be cancelled or re-scheduled, due to unforeseen circumstances that certainly arise in a dementia care environment; however, consumers should be able to discern the difference between a change of schedule or a lack of schedule.

#3 – Staff has Dementia Training Effective dementia care training is not a one-time offering during new-hire orientation. Consumers should expect and demand that a robust on-going and regularly scheduled dementia training and education curriculum is in place. Dementia care is not a one-size-fits all endeavor. Staff need to be continually supported thru education and training opportunities that address the ever-changing needs of those they serve.

#4 – Healthy Meals and Snacks – Three meals and scheduled snacks are an industry standard. However, consumers need to be vigilant with their expectations that the food is prepared fresh and the snacks are not merely pre-packaged items high in saturated fats, sodium and additives. For those with a dementia diagnosis; mealtime is especially crucial. Getting added value for overall well being can be derived from healthy, fresh and well-prepared food options. Consumers should consider staying for a meal and sampling the selections offered to ensure quality. Too often, when budgets are tight, food is one of the first lines of cut-backs and this is unfortunate considering meals are one of the most prominent places to ensure customer satisfaction.

#5- 24 Hour Nursing Support – Consumers, if you are told that a nurse is available 24 hours a day; don’t assume that means they are on-sight for all of those 24 hours. Often, this means they are available via phone to field the calls of the staff, in the event of an after-hours emergency or care crisis. When executed properly; this method can be effective. But, in the instances where staff is ill-prepared and not effectively trained, this method can have grave repercussions. By asking for specifics about the organizational emergency plan; the consumer can determine for themselves if the policy meets their expectations.


Dementia Solutions Expert & President of Keep In Mind, Inc. specializing in holistic Dementia care solutions. An engaging Keynote presenter, audiences applaud Belks passion for advocacy and common sense care solutions. She's the author of the 360 Dementia Care Operational manual for professional providers. And she's developed the workplace wellness initiative; Caregiving 411, for those who balance care & career. Recognized for implementing large-scale programs for those with Dementia; She's developed Fitness with Friends, Memory Magz & Memory Mealz.

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