When you think of mental illnesses, your mind drifts to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders or Alzheimer’s. Dementia is seldom ignored in the discussion. However, dementia is the disease that usually paves the way for Alzheimer’s. Did you know that there are over 46.8 million people in the world that suffered from dementia in 2015? Currently, there are 850,000 cases in the UK alone. If the trend was to continue in the future, this number is likely to increase to a million by 2020!
This is why it is essential to prevent or reduce the onset of dementia in the masses. It has been observed that setting personal goals for the patients helps in reducing the onset of dementia. Many healthcare providers believe that achieving personal goals plays an integral role in effective dementia care.
However, you must ensure that these personal goals are achieved. As a healthcare provider or caretaker, here are ways you can help patients achieve their goals of dementia care.
- Set goals according to the ability of the patient
The last thing you want is your patient getting demotivated after consistently failing to meet their goals of dementia care. Such a feeling hinders the progress of the treatment and instead might lead to the patient exhibiting early signs of Alzheimer’s.
To avoid this issue, you must ensure that the goal you set for the patient matches their abilities. This is why it is essential to gauge the mental wellness of the patient first. Let’s say you decide to give them braintests every day to improve their memory. However, the different tests available vary regarding the difficulty level. You must make sure the test you give them is doable yet not too easy for them. This makes sure that the patient’s brain is challenged while making sure that the task is not impossible for them to solve.
- Split activities into tasks
For people who are deep into the world of dementia, the simplest of activities may seem very complicated. To make sure the goal is achievable, it is advised that each activity is divided into tasks. If need be, the tasks can be further divided into subtasks. The point is that you must ensure that the activity itself is not too hard to understand. The whole objective of the exercise is to trigger brain use and activity. The task itself is what should trigger it not the technicalities of it. Dividing an activity into doable tasks increase the chances of the patient achieving their goals.
For instance, rather than telling them to maintain a monthly record of their activities, that they jot down every night, make it a daily thing. Ask them to reiterate what they did yesterday. The activity would remain the same. However, breaking down into daily tasks helps in simplifying it all. It also gives a sense of accomplishment to the patient after every session.
- Don’t tell them the consequences or why something is being done
Generally, to ensure that a goal is achieved, we tend to scare people by telling them what would happen if they don’t follow through with the plan. You might be tempted to use the approach with patients with dementia. Well, don’t do it. Such attempts are likely to confuse them rather than help them.
The same goes for relaying to patients the benefits of doing something. For instance, let’s say you give them braintests to do. Don’t explain to them how the given tests may trigger their brain to become sharper and focused.
Instead, just tell them what to do and make sure you don’t overcomplicate it all. Someone who is already suffering from dementia might not be able to process too much information. At the end of the day, you want them to comply, not confuse them. And benefits and consequences lead to questions and queries lead to confusion.
- Don’t give too many choices
The personal goals given to patients of dementia should be to the point. They shouldn’t have an alternate course of actions. For instance, don’t tell them to either drink eight glasses of water, or 4 glasses of fruit juice. Keep it simple. This is because the more choice you give them, the harder it is for them to keep track of the goal. Hence, they would end up not following through with the goal at all.
- Let the patients achieve their goals at their own pace
It is easy to get frustrated with the speed with which patients do their tasks. However, remember that something which may look very simple to you might be very complicated for someone with dementia. Not only do you have to make a goal achievable in general, but you must also ensure that it is possible within the given time frame. If you feel that your patient won’t be able to achieve the goal in the decided time frame, rather than telling the patient to hurry up, extend the deadline.
Make sure the goal is flexible enough to incorporate changes along the way. After all, even after planning everything to the tee, you don’t know when things start going south. At such times, you need to adapt to the situation.
- Keep assisting
Sometimes patients might not be able to achieve their goals of dementia care on their own. You will need to keep helping them along the way. However, you must be subtle about it. The patient should still feel that they are doing it all alone, or at least doing the significant portion of their task. This makes sure that they remain motivated. At the same time, it also helps in keeping them happy, which may help in alleviating the feeling of frustration.
Therefore, a great way to help a patient achieve their goals is to stay on the sidelines and be present for assistance whenever the need be.
It is true that dealing with dementia patients is not always easy. But, it has been observed that personal goals play an integral role in relieving symptoms of dementia. Play your part in making sure the patient’s goals are achieved.
Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia