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Life of a PTA

Mandatory Dementia Training

Published August 29, 2014 2:14 PM by Allison Young

I recently was looking for a good read at the library -- anything that would pique my interest and whisk me into a riveting story that related to my life in no way. As it turned out, I passed on the gritty crime fiction novels and historical fiction (my fave!) and picked up a book on caregiving for people with dementia.

I was immediately hooked as I began to read the no-nonsense approach techniques for caring and treating family members or "clients" with this diagnosis. A close friend (also a PTA) called me on 8:30 a.m. that following Sunday, to find me power-reading through this book, only to chuckle that she was "impressed with my commitment" -- to my patients.

I'm not touting that this book is the "definitive text" on managing difficult patients with dementia -- but I do feel that I was eager to learn more about the disease process and approaches that will enable myself and the patient to have a successful therapy session. Currently half the patients in my caseload live on a secured dementia unit. Having more of a knowledge base on this diagnosis and skills to effectively communicate is pivotal for increasing their safety and quality of life.

When I arrived back to the secured unit of the facility on Monday morning, my first impressions were of how "non-effectively" the aide, nursing and housekeeping staff were communicating with the residents. The most glaring example being how people with dementia will "mirror" the emotions of their caregivers. If a CNA becomes angry and frustrated, that person will find the patient expressing the same behavior in response.

In a discussion with my rehab colleagues later, and citing the previous interaction I witnessed with the aide and patient, we were all in agreement that all staff should receive mandatory dementia training. I'm certainly no expert because I read one book on the subject, but I do feel more informed and prepared to care for my patients.

If staff, along with myself, received monthly or even yearly in-service training, we would all benefit -- but especially the patients. As a therapist in a long-term care facility with a specific secured dementia unit, I feel obligated to seek continuing education opportunities to learn more about dementia. However, for the caregiver staff who aren't expected to seek supplemental education -- mandatory dementia training should be offered.

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I apologize- the author's name is Laura Wayman. Thanks for reading the blog!

Allison September 6, 2014 11:43 AM

Thanks for comments, Lisa and Jean. The book I was referencing is titled- A loving approach to dementia care : making meaningful connections with the person who has Alzheimer's disease or other dementia or memory loss by Judy Wayman. I found it to be a quick read with many helpful insights.

Allison September 6, 2014 11:37 AM

I would also be interested in the name of the book. Please post.

Lisa, Physical Therapy - Physical Therapist September 5, 2014 10:24 AM

Good blog.  What's the title of the book that you read on dementia?  We might need to add it to our library of print materials for our students studying for health care professions.  Thanks.

Jean, Librarian - LRC Coordinator, Concorde Career College August 31, 2014 10:34 PM
San Antonio TX

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