As a dementia educator, I am often asked why people living with dementia (PLWD) ask the same question over and over again. My reply is, “Because their brain is failing.” Every day, PLWDs are going through chemical and physical brain changes. Due to brain failure causing multiple problems with short-term memory, a PLWD can get themselves caught in a loop of asking the same questions. Here are some suggestions for the next time you recognize the start of another loop of questions.
In previous articles that I’ve written for Generations Magazine, I mention the GEMS® states of dementia. There are six GEMS®: Sapphire, Diamond, Emerald, Amber, Ruby and Pearl. The last state, Pearl, signifies that the end of life is nearing. In the Pearl state, bodily functions are shutting down, the person is likely to spend most of their time in bed and may have muscle atrophy or contractures.
There are many types of dementia; Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent. Dementia is ultimately brain failure. As the brain changes, a person’s skills and abilities regress. The following are four changes you can expect as dementia progresses…
Planning activities for a Person Living With Dementia (PLWD) isn’t easy. I’ve found it challenging to identify activities that peak and maintain the interest of a PLWD. The Positive Approach to Care philosophy states that PLWD need a balance of activities that include leisure, productivity, restoration and self-care.
There are variations of engagement for everyone in any GEMS® state of dementia. GEMS® is a dementia characteristic and ability model. Providing activities that the person is able to do mentally and physically is the key.
People living with dementia need guidance, human connection and a sense of independence. In my professional practice, we use the Positive Physical Approach. This innovative modality developed by Teepa Snow teaches family caregivers more effective ways to understand and communicate with their loved ones and all people with dementia.
GEMS® is a staging system for dementia. Teepa Snow, OTR and founder of the Positive Approach to Care® philosophy, recreated the Allen Cognitive system of staging dementia with a positive twist. We can now view our Person Living With Dementia as one of Teepa’s GEMS® rather than on a scale of 1 to 7 or on a scale of mild cognitive impairment to profoundly demented.