What is it like to navigate the world as an older adult with dementia? How much more difficult are tasks like walking or taking your medication when you’re faced with changes in your sensory capabilities such as decreased vision, hearing loss, or arthritis pain?
At Seniors At Home, we believe that in order to provide the very best in dementia care we must first be able to step into the shoes of the older adults we care for and understand their experience. That’s why, at a specialized dementia care training last week, Seniors At Home caregivers got to do just that.
A Sensory Experience
Sensory limitations such as sight and hearing loss, arthritis pain, and reduced mobility are common for older adults, and often accompany dementia. An important part of Seniors At Home’s dementia care training is giving caregivers the opportunity to experience the ways in which sensory restrictions shape a person’s experience of the world.
Donning plastic gloves stuffed with cotton, goggles covered in Scotch tape, cotton balls in their ears, and a rubber band across their ankles, a group of Seniors At Home caregivers walked slowly and carefully around the room with the help of an unadorned partner.
At first glance, the outfits might look silly – but each prop is carefully designed to mimic the experience of an older adult with sensory limitations. The gloves and rubber band limit dexterity and movement, while the goggles and cotton balls simulate vision and hearing loss.
Andrea Korsunsky, Director of Seniors At Home’s Center for Dementia Care, explains why this exercise is a fundamental part of the training course. She says, “In order provide excellent dementia care, we must empathize with our clients and develop strategies to accommodate care based on what they need. By getting a chance to play the role of both the client and caregiver in this exercise, our caregivers get to experience both perspectives.”
The Value of Supporting Caregivers
Caregivers who feel supported are happier, more confident, and able to provide superior care to the seniors they work with, and providing ongoing and specialized training is just one of the ways we support our valued caregivers at Seniors At Home.
In addition to Alzheimer’s and dementia care training, other topics offered to caregivers include body mechanics, self-care, and caring for someone at the end of life. Unique sensitivity trainings give caregivers education about working with Holocaust Survivors as well as with clients of all faiths, backgrounds, gender identities and sexual orientations.
Learning New Skills and Strategies Makes for Better Quality of Life for Seniors
Gertie Ribeiro, a Seniors At Home caregiver, spends four days a week caring for an elderly woman with dementia whom she adores. Gertie often attends the paid trainings that Seniors At Home offers because, as she explains, “It’s enjoyable, we learn a lot, and I get to meet and connect with other caregivers.”
Gertie attended the dementia care training to learn more about how to care for her client, and feels that the sensory exercise was especially helpful.
“I didn’t know what it was like for my client until now,” she says. “I have a new understanding of how she experiences the world, and how to help her.”
Fellow caregiver, Eldon Takeda, also enjoys taking advantage of the professional development opportunity that Seniors At Home provides. Though none of the seniors he cares for currently have dementia, he attended the dementia care training because it’s great professional development and to grow his expertise.
Eldon’s greatest takeaway from the training applies to the challenging moments of caregiving. He explains, “If your client doesn’t want to eat, offer something else or try eating with them. Avoid words like ‘don’t,’ ‘can’t,’ or ‘stop’ – always try to think in terms of positive alternatives.”
With such dedicated caregivers who are always interested in learning new skills, Seniors At Home knows that the care of seniors is in skilled and loving hands.
To learn more about our outstanding caregivers and how they can help you or a loved one, call us on 415-449-3777.
If you are a professional caregiver and would like to work for Seniors At Home, visit our jobs page.