Making a Positive Difference in Dementia Care

In January, 2022, TMC launched its proprietary Dementia Certification Course, Mindful Care: Therapy Implementation. The goal of Mindful Care is for residents and patients to be provided with person-centered care that is based on their remaining cognitive abilities. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million Americans are currently living with dementia, with this number expecting to nearly triple in the next 10 years. Additionally, 1 in 3 Seniors living in a long-term care facility lives with Alzheimer’s Disease or a related dementia. This fact illustrates a significant need for a better understanding of how to care for individuals with dementia. Mindful Care teaches therapists how to identify and treat individuals with cognitive impairment and provides practical application strategies to ensure that a such a program is implemented community-wide.  Mindful Care categorizes the stages of dementia into a cognitive “Color Code,” helping to organize resources and interventions that are focused on the individual’s cognitive abilities. These codes include red for late/end-stage dementia, yellow for middle stage, and green for early stage.

Our team in Senatobia, MS, was one of the first to complete Mindful Care training.  Soon after the training, they met to determine a strategy for implementing person-centered interventions that help to mitigate risks that are often associated with dementia, such as falls, weight loss, ADL decline, and responsive behaviors. 

Reducing the occurrence of responsive behaviors, especially in the late afternoon, is often one of the “pain points” that facilities face. Often, psychotropic medications are used to address these behaviors. These medications, however, can lead to additional risks and declines in the elderly population.  Behaviors often occur in our patients who are functioning in the middle to late stage of dementia, as the individual’s ability to communicate verbally decreases due to progression of the disease. One of the strategies taught in Mindful Care, especially for individuals functioning in the middle stage of dementia, is to keep their minds and hands occupied with tangible tasks that are meaningful to them.  Since many of our residents have spent time raising families and completing daily housework, activities which simulate these behaviors can fulfil the residents’ need to manipulate items with their hands, while completing tasks that make them feel productive, such as folding laundry.

Our Senatobia, MS, facility had a resident who was originally admitted with a hip fracture and mild-moderate cognitive impairments.  Due to these limitations, the resident was not able to safely return home with family, and stayed in the facility for long-term care. Following her discharge from skilled therapy and transition to long-term care, the resident continued to experience declines and multiple falls and returned to therapy to address these issues. The resident was evaluated using TMC’s “More than a Memory” specialty evaluation, and was determined to be functioning in the middle stage of dementia.

Following completion of the Mindful Care course, Brittney, PTA/TCN, brought some baby clothes from home for the dementia patients to fold, as recommended in the course.  Courtney, COTA, and Ashton, SLP, worked with the resident on folding the baby clothes, and found that it kept her engaged and happy in the task. This was in contrast to previous attempts where they had set the resident up to fold therapy towels, and found that she was disengage. The baby clothes made her smile and reminisce about her own children and grandchildren.

Since introducing the baby clothes-folding tasks, the resident has been more alert and more engaged in therapy and other facility activities. Mary Hannah, SLP, has been able to introduce some of the “yellow” cognitive tasks with her, and has even attempted some goal-based, “green” level tasks, and she has been able to complete them more accurately than in the past!

With the education and resources gleaned from the Mindful Care course, our team has been able to educate the facility staff members regarding the different levels of dementia and the needs of patients. Amber, OT, has led education with the Therapy team, patients, families, and facility staff in setting and keeping the residents with dementia on a routine and schedule, a concept important for their cognition. They have also developed Functional Maintenance Plans (FMPs) for these residents, as well as cognitive-focused treatments and plans of care for them as well.

One member of the therapy team was quoted as saying that “the Mindful Care course has really helped our whole team get to know our patients, who we thought we knew pretty well, even better than before.” Other feedback from TMC team members who have taken the Mindful Care:  Therapy Implementation course has been overwhelmingly positive. 

In Senatobia, MS, and company-wide, TMC is ALL IN when it comes to providing patient-centered care that is focused on meeting each individual resident’s needs in a way that highlights their remining abilities and improves their quality of life!