Make communication easier for a person with Alzheimer’s disease

Check out these 5 tips to make communication easier between you and a person with Alzheimer’s:

  • Make eye contact and call the person by name
  • Be aware of your tone, how loud your voice is, how you look at the person, and your body language
  • Encourage two-way conversation for as long as possible
  • Use other methods besides speaking, such as gentle touching
  • Try distracting the person if communication creates problems

Visit the ADEAR website to learn more about the changes in communication that may accompany Alzheimer’s disease.

Health Care Professionals: Online course for Practical Discussions about Cognitive Impairment with Patients

Discussing memory concerns with your patients can be difficult. Alzheimer’s and other dementias are complex, and patients often have a lot of questions and concerns.

To help you prepare for these visits, the Alzheimer’s Association® presents Challenging Conversations About Dementia.

The five-module online course covers:

  1. Counseling the Worried Well Patient: Review of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Risk Factors
  2. Diagnosing the Cause of Dementia: Why Is This Important?
  3. The Road Ahead to a Differential Diagnosis: What Can the Patient Expect?
  4. Caring for a Patient Newly Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease: What Needs to be Addressed?
  5. Driving Retirement: Challenging Conversations in Community Mobility

In this free course, you’ll receive information to confidently approach the detection, diagnostic and care-planning process for your patients with cognitive impairment and dementia.

Complete this course at alz.org/FreeCME.

Libraries: A valuable component of the Dementia Friendly Illinois initiative

As Illinois embarks on its journey to make the State dementia friendly, an important resource to include in the planning process is its public libraries.  Public libraries are respected institutions that can be found in nearly every town, village and city in the state.  No longer content to be mere warehouses for books, libraries are increasingly taking on inclusive projects as vital participants in their communities.

Libraries can make a valuable contribution to the Dementia Friendly Illinois initiative.  The Dementia Friendly America website includes a Library Sector Guide that outlines a wide variety of activities and resources available through libraries.  In addition to offering educational and informational programming about dementia to caregivers and the general public, libraries contain a wealth of materials that can be used to stimulate and engage people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.

A growing number of Illinois libraries are already offering programs and services directly to this population.  Here are just a few of the things that libraries are doing:

  • Bringing programs to memory care facilities – for one example see Tales & Travel Memories at the Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin (check out the video of the program in action)
  • Hosting Memory Cafes – see Memory Lane Social at the Mokena Community Public Library District
  • Circulating memory kits – see the Forget Me Not Resource Center at the Effingham Public Library

Illinois libraries are banding together to share ideas and expertise in an effort to expand services to persons living with dementia.  Libraries belonging to the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) in northern Illinois have formed a Serving Patrons with Dementia Group that meets quarterly and has a discussion listserv.  This idea has recently been shared with the Illinois Heartland Library System in hopes of involving libraries in the southern part of the state in this discussion.

There is also a national group of librarians who are passionately interested in serving people living with dementia and their care partners.  The Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Interest Group (IGARD) is a part of the American Library Association.

As Illinois communities begin the process of becoming dementia friendly, an invitation to the local library to participate would be of benefit to all.  In addition to contacting the library director, ask to talk with the Outreach Librarian, who may already be involved in reaching out to this too often forgotten population.

Submitted by Mary Beth Riedner, Chair, Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Interest Group/American Library Association

Dental Care for Persons Living with Dementia

A person with dementia may forget how to brush his or her teeth or forget why it’s important. A caregiver may have to assist or take a more hands-on approach.

Proper oral care is necessary to prevent eating difficulties, digestive problems and infections.  Weight loss and loss of appetite can be associated with poor dental care.  Mouth pain is sometimes overlooked as a cause for increased agitation or other behavioral changes.

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, preventive dental care is important. Getting check-ups and cleaning and flossing teeth regularly can prevent extensive dental procedures in the future.

During the middle and late stages of Alzheimer’s, oral health may become more challenging. The person may forget what to do with toothpaste or how to rinse, or may be resistant to assistance from others. Sometimes caregivers may need to use the “watch-me” technique to help the person with dementia do the steps associated with appropriate dental care.  Other tips can be found here.

Finding a dentist with experience in providing oral care in persons with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease are not always the easiest to find.  However, talking with the dentist that is already taking care of a person with dementia may be a good place to start.  Preparing the dental team that a person has dementia may help in making the dental appointment be less stressful for all.

Public Health and Advanced Care Planning for Persons Living with Dementia

 

Advance care planning and end-of-life care are increasingly being considered public health issues in the United States.

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials recently released Advance Care Planning for Alzheimer’s Patients as a Public Health Issue, an issue brief that identifies the role of state health departments, public health agencies, and healthcare workforce in addressing issues related to end-of-life care and implementing programs that promote advance care planning for people with Alzheimer’s.

The document outlines types of advance directives, barriers, as well as findings to date around implementation. In addition, the resource highlights state and local programs and strategies that have been used for supporting the development and implementation of advanced care planning initiatives.

Medicare Coverage of Care Planning Toolkit for Providers

In 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began paying healthcare providers for care planning services for individuals with cognitive impairments.

The Alzheimer’s Association, with the help of an expert task force, created a toolkit to help providers understand how to conduct a care planning visit under the new CMS code.

The toolkit includes easy access to validated measures — such as the Mini-Cog™ and Dementia Severity Rating Scale, newly designed assessment tools, and links to helpful resources, including caregivers.

Download the toolkit at www.alz.org/careplanning

Reducing Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations


Among people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, 25% experience a preventable hospitalization, and such preventable hospitalizations cost Medicare nearly $2.6 billion in 2013. Hospitalizations for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias also increase risk for delirium, falls, pressure ulcers, untreated pain, and functional decline — impacts that can hinder or delay recovery after a hospitalization, create new care challenges, or intensify the existing burden of care.

A new public health policy brief from the Alzheimer’s Association — Reducing Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations for People Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias — identifies ways that state and local public health leaders can help reduce potentially avoidable hospitalizations.