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Improving Dementia Care in Chicago Nursing Homes

The total number of elderly Illinois residents rises on a daily basis. Coinciding with the demographic change is a rise in instances of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Cognitive decline in seniors is a striking problem. One of the main reasons that local families help their loved ones into nursing homes is specifically because of these issues which make it impossible for the senior to live on their own.

Understanding that these dementia issues are on the rise, it is incumbent upon long-term care facilities to take steps to provide the absolute best memory care possible to this community. It is well known that a one size fits all approach to this treatment is unacceptable. Each resident has different needs, struggles, vulnerabilities, and limitations. It is critical for caregivers to provide individualized care both to prevent harm as well as maximize the senior’s well-being.

New Dementia Care Program
As reported recently by McKnight’s, there are some new training courses which seek to help prescribers and non-prescribers who care for dementia patients. The programs were created by the group ADMA-Dedicated to Long-Term Care Medicine. According to the report, “the aim is to equip caregivers so that they can provide person-centered care and scale back on the use of antipsychotic medications.”

While the program itself includes many detailed examinations and protocols, the main idea is that drugs should never be the first resort with this care. For a variety of reasons, seniors with cognitive conditions have “behavioral” problems, often requiring more individual time from caregivers. To deal with those problems many residents are immediately given drugs which mellow their mood, almost to the point of being put in a stupor. This is often referred to as a “chemical restraint,” and should be avoided at all costs.

Fortunately, medical professionals are learning that there are alternative to medications. In many cases, use of different activities, mental engagement exercises, and social engagement opportunities can drastically improve resident well-being and behavior. Instead of dulling the senior out of the community, the opposite–integrating them–can prove to be the best approach.

The actual online training courses–available for free online here–deals with more than just antipsychotic medicine avoidance. The comprehensive course offers counsel on virtually all aspects of the care of seniors with dementia in long-term care setting. That includes the initial recognition of affected seniors, assessment of vulnerable residents, treatment options, and continued monitoring.

Each of those details are important, and preventable harm can befall residents if any step is missed. For example, the best individualized care in the world can be provided but if dementia residents are not properly monitored they may wander, suffering serious injury after leaving the facility unattended, falling, or otherwise failing to recognize the dangers around them.

Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers have worked with many families after their loved ones with dementia and Alzheimers were harmed by inadequate care. Too many seniors and their families have suffered as a result of poor caregiving practices for dementia residents. We can only hope that new programs like this are the needed spur to raise standards at long-term care facilities throughout Illinois.

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