All too common in the news are stories of elder abuse in care facilities. Because many of the patients are suffering from various forms of Dementia, they are forgetful or often confused, and are easy targets. On the other side of the spectrum, however, are many caregivers who try various methods to help Dementia patients maintain their dignity and as much of a normal life as possible. Try some of these tactics with your own loved ones, or see that they are implemented at their care facility.
Continence & Toileting
One of the most obvious areas of care where things can get embarrassing quickly is dealing with continence and toileting. If your loved one has had an accident, get them changed quickly so they can get back to normal daily activities. If they wear continence undergarments, keep the packaging out of sight so visitors can’t see them. Make sure to still call them underwear, and when asking if the patient needs to use the restroom, continue to use common language such as, “do you need to go to the bathroom?” instead of baby talk such as, “do you need to go potty?”
Bathing & Dressing
When helping a Dementia patient bathe, a lot of times they can still do quite a bit on their own, so let them do what they can. Be there to assist with getting in and getting out and reaching areas that may be too difficult. The same goes for dressing, let them do what they can. Offer options and assist with personal grooming. Everyone feels better when they’re a little spruced up! My grandma always loved applying tinted Chapstick before leaving her room.
Mealtime is a great time to offer moments of dignity. If you must feed someone, always sit at their level, don’t stand over them. Use standard plates, glasses, and silverware, instead of plastic. My grandma often admired my aunt’s lovely china and glasses. Refer to a bib as an apron, and again let them do as much as they can on their own while engaging in conversation.
Conversation & Daily Life
Always knock and say your name when you enter their room. Make sure you’re using the name that they prefer, not a nickname you like using. If there are signs posted about specific care, have them out of sight for visitors such as taped to the inside of a cupboard. When speaking about care in front of them, talk to them, not just about them. Lastly, try to set up conversations for success, not asking them something too difficult.
“If we treat our elders with as much respect as they deserve, they will maintain their dignity and have a much better quality of life.”
There are many other ways caregivers can help patients maintain their dignity. There’s a facility in the U.K. where night staff wear pajamas to remind residents what time of day it is. A facility in Denmark allows residents to come and go as they please but hides GPS trackers on their person for safety. With my Grandma if she seems bothered that she can’t remember something, I try to make light of it, telling her that I have to post sticky notes all over my desk to remember anything at all. If we treat our elders with as much respect as they deserve, they will maintain their dignity and have a much better quality of life.
If you are concerned about maintaining dignity in the care of your family, consider Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI). With LTCI you’ll not only be able to preserve your retirement savings, you’ll also be able to preserve your relationships. Using your policy, you can hire at-home caregivers and your loved ones can maintain their normal relationships with you as your care needs increase. Visit LTC Consumer, and speak to a specialist about your long-term care pl