February 28, 2012 // Franchising.com // The federal government recently launched the new National Alzheimer’s Plan to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. Part of that plan is to find ways for struggling families to better cope with the disease, today. Senior Helpers and a dementia care expert are helping make the government’s goal a reality with a program they created to help caregivers and families better communicate with those with dementia.
The new program is called Senior Gems. It’s a step-by-step guide that teaches hands-on care providers and families how to care for loved ones through each stage of dementia and Alzheimer’s. There are several traditional scales used to describe the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Teepa Snow, a nationally renowned dementia care expert, has taken the Allen Cognitive Disability Model, which focuses on what those with the disease are able to do, and replaced the numbered levels with gems. By using gems, Teepa not only reminds us of how precious our clients are, but also makes it easier to understand the progression of this disease.
“I'm thrilled with our government's new commitment to confront Alzheimers because it is taking a devastating toll on families across America," says Teepa Snow. "I certainly hope the researchers, with the new governmental support, will find a cure by 2025. But until and unless that happens, we can't just wait. Millions of people are living with various forms of dementia, not just Alzheimers. We are taking action by training Senior Helpers caregivers and family members in communities across the nation, how to better care for and communicate with our loved ones who are doing the best they can while living with a progressive condition that is robbing them of themselves.”
Show how Senior Helpers caregivers are using the Senior Gems program to help improve the lives of seniors and families touched by dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Most seniors with Alzheimer’s can perform a task once they get started, but they may have trouble initiating or switching tasks. Their abilities fluctuate from day to day, day to night, person to person, and minute to minute. This makes it hard to exactly predict what they will or will not be able to do. It means we, as caregivers, need to be flexible and supportive rather than pointing out the errors and getting frustrated with the changing abilities.
If an Alzheimer’s patient forgets about a doctor’s appointment:
When you’re caring for a senior with dementia, it’s important to show them how to perform everyday tasks instead of telling them how to do something. It’s called show-and-tell.
*For further details of these examples, see Closer Look below.
“In any situation, it’s best to use empathy and validation rather than a reality check or lies. And it’s vital that we act now because our families are suffering,” says Snow. “They don’t understand the disease - and there’s no one to teach them. That’s why we started this program; to give families answers and show them, in practical terms, how to improve the quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients and themselves, through better communication.”
Senior Gems is a revolutionary program to help family members and professional caregivers properly care for their aging loved ones through each stage of dementia. Teepa Snow began developing her Gem Levels in 2006. In 2011, the Senior Gem program was created with her guidance and assistance. This program puts Senior Helpers at the forefront of individual and in-home dementia-specialized caregiving as they offer all of their in-home companions and caregivers the opportunity to become dementia care certified through the training program.
Senior Helpers connects professional caregivers with seniors who wish to live at home as opposed to a nursing or assisted living facility. The company has 300 franchises in 39 states and one in Canada offering a wide range of personal and companion care services to assist seniors living independently with a strong focus on quality of life for the client and peace of mind for their families. Senior Helpers strives to be the leading companion and personal care provider that offers dependable, consistent and affordable home care. For more information, please visit www.seniorhelpers.com.