During a therapy session in the sensory room…
Me: “How do you like the sensory room? Pretty cool, huh?”
Friend #4: ” I like it. It’s romantic. You should bring a boy in here and hold his hand!”
Me: “I’m not sure I’ll be doing that anytime soon, friend…”
Another week in the books at my fieldwork site and this also happens to be my second to last week here The feelings are bittersweet to be honest. I have connected with so many talented, sweet and amazing residents, coworkers and staff… I truly think sites like the one I’m at are hard to come by. Things are wrapping up nicely at my site, but I think there’s always so much more a person wants to do while they are there. I would love to see more of what is to come with the sensory program because it’s really just beginning and I would love to keep engaging my patients with Memories in the Making and watch as they grow but alas, the end is near.
But if I’m being completely transparent, the last few weeks have been pretty stressful in life, in general. It’s becoming more and more apparent to me how much thought goes into moving states away from home, finding (nice but affordable) housing in addition to finding a (good) job. I’m not sure if I was just starry eyed while I was in the classroom, but the job market isn’t what I was expecting it to be… However, everything will be as it should, and I’m SO grateful for the support of my friends and family and am so happy I have my best friend beside me through it all as I know I likely wouldn’t move hours from home if it was just Pearl and I. I just have to trust the process and continually remind myself to put everything in God’s hands. The current plan is: after graduation, Lena and I are going to Colorado and Wyoming for five days to look into housing and jobs. Right after that, I’m going to work my tail off studying for the boards while making a little money working at Fareway back in good ole Iowa. But first things first, there are a few things I need to do before leaving my site…
The biggest thing left to do is providing an inservice on caregiving for individuals with dementia to staff at my site. I think it’s necessary and will be so helpful as Certified Nursing Assistants or CNAs don’t receive extensive training on how to approach individuals with dementia (I can attest to this having gone through a CNA program myself), but this doesn’t take away from my fears associated with public speaking. With all the rain we are expecting this weekend, it will be a perfect time for me to rehearse for my audience on four legs in the judgement free zone that is my bedroom. 😉 Truly, I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to present about this topic, because it has been a learning experience for me, too. Dementia is becoming more and more prevalent in our nation and world. As it relates to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) alone (just one form of dementia), consider this: at this point in time, over 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, it is projected that 16 million Americans will be diagnosed with AD (Alzheimer’s Association, 2017). The importance of learning how to best serve individuals with memory impairments is only becoming more apparent.
Occupational therapy has a big role in providing education to patients and caregivers, alike. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, “Occupational therapy practitioners help people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers to live life to its fullest by adapting the environment and focusing on what they can do to maximize engagement in activity (occupation), promote safety, and enhance quality of life” (2011). Occupational therapists focus on creative, occupation-based interventions to motivate individuals and help them to return to their maximum level of function no matter the diagnosis. This focus is especially useful with individuals living with AD, as during the later stages of the disease, they may not be able to complete many of the activities they had previously, but just participating as much as they can in their basic activities of daily living can add meaning to their lives and can help to increase their quality of life.
To help guide the material covered in my presentation, I surveyed the CNAs at my site to assess their current confidence in their knowledge of how to work with individuals with memory impairments. While many felt their nursing assistant training provided them with a good base of knowledge, 92% reported they felt they could benefit from additional training in how to best serve those with memory impairments. When researching the most effective ways to educate caregivers, I found that providing the education within the facility during the caregivers’ shifts would promote increased attendance. Incorporating education of this nature into a facility’s seminar schedule/ making it so CNA staff can earn continuing education credits is also beneficial (Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care & Rehabilitation, 2008). Taking this all into account, I am providing 4 sessions of my inservice during the time of shift change over the span of two days and I asked the nursing coordinator about the potential of awarding continuing ed credits and she agreed that .5 credits could be awarded. I am also going to provide some chocolate chip cookies and lemonade as a way to encourage (bribe) people to attend. 😉
To wrap things up- my final take home point today is that occupational therapists play a big role in the provision of care in nursing homes and long term care facilities. In a study conducted by Gronstedt et al (2013), they found that individually tailored interventions for nursing home residents focusing on physical and daily activities were effective in improving transfers, balance and physical activity level when compared to usual care. Occupational therapy is an intrinsic part of the rehabilitation process of older adults and I’m so excited I have gotten the chance to learn more about this from some wonderful professionals!
This post is already way longer than I had intended, so until next time…
Have a blessed week ♥,
Alzheimer’s Association. (2017). 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/facts/
Grönstedt, H., Frändin, K., Bergland, A., Helbostad, J. L., Granbo, R., Puggaard, L., & Hellström, K. (2013). Effects of individually tailored physical and daily activities in nursing home residents on activities of daily living, physical performance and physical activity level: a randomized controlled trial. Gerontology, 59(3), 220-229.