As we get older the chances of developing some form of dementia increases substantially, but there are many different types and many different levels.
The symptoms of dementia (i.e. memory loss, difficulties communicating, changing behavior) may be distressing and, often, there’s a fear of the unknown for the person with dementia, their family and friends. We can’t take away the pain of living with, or watching someone you love coping with dementia but we can help.
At Cinnamon Care Services, the appropriate systems and practices are in place to help support this need, and believe it is the more personal aspects of interacting with people diagnosed with dementia which lead to a greater quality of life, than medication alone.
Enjoying life doesn’t have to stop with the diagnosis of dementia. As carers, we strive to give our attention to things that are most important and enjoyable for the individuals in our care. We care for the person first, rather than simply focusing on dementia.
Forms of dementia can impair a person’s ability to understand words and to speak. However, they can still benefit from non-verbal communication—body language, voice tone and facial expressions. To foster and maintain harmonious dialogue, the team is trained to be cognizant of the following questions when interacting with residents diagnosed with dementia;
- Am I treating the person with respect?
- Am I approaching with a smile?
- Am I calm and relaxed?
- Do I wait patiently for a response?
- Am I mindful of my body positioning to be sure I make eye contact and get down on the person’s eye level?
- Do I shake or hold the person’s hand as I introduce myself and/or converse?
- Do I recognize that turning my back on this person without first excusing myself is rude?
- Do I praise any and all participation no matter how successful?
- Is there any sound that might distract this person?
- Is the lighting good (no glare, adequate brightness, limited changes in lighting levels, etc.)?
- Is there anything that may be visually distracting, taking the resident’s attention away?
- Are there any smells that might take my patient’s attention away?
We use a variety of established models and practices to ensure residents with dementia live as fuller lives as possible. One such model is that developed by Tom Kitwood, a person-centred approach, where people with dementia are recognised as able to make sense of their situation, have feelings and treated with value, worth and dignity.
The estate also has its own ‘sensory gardens’, this unique area within its cinnamon groves enliven all five senses using a variety of plants which trigger; taste, sight, smell, touch and sound, and the black and white footpath stimulates the gait.
The rapid improvements exhibited by Mary, one of Cinnamon Grove’s residents, is testament to the triumphs which can be achieved by the utilization of modern techniques. Mary’s family, most of whom reside abroad, were astounded at the marked improvements in her personality and a return to her cheerful nature.
We realise there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ magic elixir for conditions such as dementia, it’s an on-going process of attempting different methods and changing one’s approach depending on the resident’s disposition at any given time. This where the array of available techniques administered at the home adds a new dimension to elderly care in Sri Lanka.
Cinnamon Care Services has established partnerships with similar institutions in the UK, the US, Sweden and Singapore, to ensure the latest developments can be transferred locally.
In the longer term, the company is seeking to work with policy makers to guide and oversee the introduction of statutory regulations and policies such as those in place in the UK and so ensure Sri Lanka’s ageing population is afforded the same level of care and protection.