ADVISORY COUNCIL ON ALZHEIMER'S RESEARCH, CARE, AND SERVICES
Friday, April 27, 2018
Printer Friendly Version in PDF Format (3 PDF page)
Quality Care from the Perspectives of People Living with Dementia
Cynthia Huling Hummel, B.S., M.Div., D.Min.
NAPA Council Member
National Alzheimer's Association Early-Stage Advisor (2015)
A Letter to Our Caregivers: Quality Care from the Perspective of Individuals Living with Dementia
Presented by Cynthia Huling Hummel to the NAPA Advisory Committee April 27, 2018
Imagine experiencing dramatic changes in your memory and thinking that disrupt your everyday functioning. Then imagine trying to cover-up or cope with these challenges as the fear and isolation of the unknown continues to grow. For many of us, access to an early and accurate diagnosis helped validate our concerns and provided the opportunity to develop strategies to live with dementia. Coupled with education and resources immediately after diagnosis, early detection and diagnosis can help build the foundation for quality person-centered care.
Alzheimer's disease affects each person differently; therefore, our experiences living with dementia will be different. Professional caregivers should take time to find out more about us and our history. Person-centered care means engaging in a dialogue WITH me, not just AT me. We want to tell you about our hopes, our dreams, and our lives. When you know us, we can be partners in putting a quality person-centered care plan in place. If we are not able to provide this information, please seek the input from others who might know us: our family members, friends and partners. Accept us as we are and practice patience. Individuals living with dementia need support, but don't be too quick to jump in and take over. Let us do as much as we can for as long as we can.
Quality care is about meeting individual needs and preferences. As our ability to communicate changes, we are asking you to be detectives and be flexible to adjust care approaches to meet our needs and preferences. Similarly, be mindful of creating an environment that reflects our characteristics, personality and preferences. Please practice tolerance of our changing abilities, while helping us focus on our strengths so that we can maintain a sense of autonomy for as long as possible.
Opportunities for meaningful connection should be a consideration of quality care. We want and need varied and available activities that have meaning and purpose. We are all different, and different is good. It is the connection to others at every stage of the disease that can make a difference in our overall sense of wellbeing.
We need an effective care team that is working together to personalize our care in response to our unique and changing medical, social and emotional needs. And please make sure that we are included in the discussion. Take time to listen to US and coordinate with other members of our care team. Act as a partner and advocate.
Another key to effective person-centered care is trained staff. Provide educational opportunities for staff to learn about best practices and how to respond to our needs as they change. We want and need staff to treat us as individuals; because we are all different. We want and need to have confidence in the care providers' ability to care for us because our sense of well-being depends on it. We want and need your expertise on person-centered approaches to our care-that are both pharmacological and non-pharmacological. Provide us and our families with the pros and cons of different treatment options and interventions so that we are informed and empowered. We are mindful that some medications for 2 example, have unpleasant side effects or may not be efficacious after a certain period of time. These are important considerations in making person-centered treatment decisions. Let's make them together.
There will come a time when we may not always accept or understand the care you will provide to us. Know that we appreciate the work you will do every day to help maintain our quality of life, our sense of purpose and personhood. YOU have a unique opportunity to ensure person-centered care is imbedded in the culture of your organization, and the Alzheimer's Association has given you a roadmap on how to do it well. Your efforts will give our families the support and guidance they will need as they navigate this uncertain journey with us and help us to live well with dementia throughout every stage of the disease.
Thank you for all you do and for your commitment to quality person-centered dementia care.
Alzheimer's Association National Early-Stage Advisors
For more information, please read A Guide to Quality Care from the Perspectives of People Living with Dementia [https://alz.org/dementia-care-practice-recommendations/downloads/qualitycare_plwd.pdf] or visit https://www.alz.org/dementia-care-practice-recommendations/.