Last night at a meeting of the Gerontological Nursing Association, Toronto Chapter, we had the opportunity to hear John Thomas, Psychogeriatric Resource Consultant speak about Responsive Behaviours in Dementia Care. John shared some useful information and approaches. He has a favoured way to describe the way that dementia is related to Alzheimers. He asserts that Dementia is to Alzheimers as Sneezing and Coughing is to the cold virus. In other words, dementia in and of itself, is not a disease.
On a very important note he reminded the audience of some of the often overlooked but possible reversible causes of dementia; medications,poor nutrition, low B12, low iron, electrolyte imbalance, brain tumour, depression, and delirium to mention a few.
We know that medications used to help with agitation and aggression are not more important than, and will never take the place of, getting to know the person suffering from dementia and really discovering the ways to provide care for each person in a meaningful and personalized manner.
We are ever hopeful, but always concerned as to whether the good done by these medications outweighs the often serious side effects that accompany them.
The audience was composed of Registered Nurses, Registered Practical Nurses and Personal Support Workers. For us the topic is more than academic, it’s personal. The issues arising from the care of persons with dementia challenge us everyday in our Practices.
We appreciate the opportunity to get together with colleagues, to discuss the challenges of our daily work, to share ideas and to brainstorm. A serving of lasagna, eggplant parmagiana and salad, a slice of lemon meringue pie, a fruit platter and a cup of tea to fuel the discussion certainly don’t hurt either!!!