Serving as a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be a deeply frustrating and challenging experience. Difficulties with communication and the various symptoms and changes that occur at each stage are stressful for both caregivers and their loved ones.
As a response to these unique challenges, the Positive Approach to Care (PAC) was created. PAC is a person-centered approach that uses various techniques to meet the individual needs of those with dementia.
Learn more about this type of care, and the caregiver series as The Kensington focuses on its philosophy and techniques.
A Glimpse into the Positive Approach to Care
During this event, Tonya Embly, Memory Care Director and PAC-certified trainer at The Kensington Falls Church, discusses the PAC philosophy and training techniques.
The Kensington uses PAC training and education throughout its community as a practical and compassionate approach to care. PAC is focused on what skills remain, rather than what is lost.
What is PAC training?
PAC was founded by Teepa Snow, an occupational therapist with 40 years of clinical practice. Teepa is one of the leading educators on dementia, and her approach is based on brain function within various conditions.
Teepa Snow uses a type of experiential training known as multimodal learning. She helps people move away from common but inaccurate beliefs about dementia in order to get to the real focus: What is happening within a changing brain?
The unique focus on brain function is then combined with therapeutic approaches. PAC, as a person-centered approach to care, emphasizes the person with dementia and their individual needs. This way, caregivers can provide better care by matching their loved one’s specific needs with the right approach for that situation.
PAC at each stage of Alzheimer’s
PAC training is focused on putting relationships first, so that caregivers, as well as those living with dementia, can understand how and why their behaviors, emotions, interactions, and reactions are changing.
Dementia care is always evolving as experts learn more, but the core of PAC stands to help people build their skill sets. The goal shouldn’t be to change the person with dementia back into who they were before, but for us to change along with them so we can best support them.
With PAC training, staff at The Kensington Falls Church can provide exceptional care to residents in need of memory care. Loved ones can rest assured that assisted living is the best choice for their senior in need of assistance.
Early-stage of dementia
Communication changes occur over time in those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. In the early stage of dementia, your loved one still can engage in meaningful conversations and social activities, but they may begin to have trouble finding the right words, repeat stories, or become overwhelmed.
Using PAC, caregivers will understand that dementia affects each person differently, so no assumptions are made as to individual conversation skill levels. It is important to:
- Patiently listen as your loved one speaks
- Address them directly
- In earlier stages, ask them what they need assistance with, rather than assuming
- In mid to late stage, helping them start tasks
- Continue to develop and maintain your relationship
As your loved one’s dementia develops, keep the focus on what they still are able to do, and what they enjoy doing. A person-centered approach to care means remembering your loved one’s likes and dislikes for their ultimate contentment and quality of life.
For example, what are their favorite foods and bedtime routines? Sometimes agitation and behaviors occur because your loved one’s lifelong preferences and comforts are being overlooked.
This becomes especially important in the middle to late stages of dementia.
Middle to late stages of dementia
During the middle to late stages of dementia, communication gradually becomes more difficult, and the amount of direct care needed increases.
To continue maintaining the right communication techniques, consider these approaches:
- Maintain eye contact
- Speak slowly and clearly, in a quiet space
- Offer reassurance and be patient as they find the words
- Ask yes or no questions
- Increase use of visual cues or gestures
- Indulge the senses to enhance communication
- Pay attention to the emotions behind nonverbal cues
- Be kind, respectful, and present
In the late stages of dementia, communication will not look the same. As verbal communication diminishes, pay close attention to the behaviors, facial expressions, and body language as communication.
Understanding the unique ways your loved one communicates, even in the late stages, will allow for continued connection and opportunities for engagement.
How The Kensington uses PAC training for exceptional care
When it’s time to move your loved one to an assisted living community with specialized memory care, choosing one that uses PAC training techniques is essential. Your loved one will experience an exceptional level of care that is consistently focused on their unique strengths, comforts, and joys.
At The Kensington Falls Church, Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own. In cozy, safe, quality accommodations, our two memory care neighborhoods — Connections and Haven — have dedicated, trained staff that are prepared to assist all levels of memory loss.
Allow your loved one to “age in place” in a community where no need is too great or too small, and our staff will always make you and your loved ones feel loved and at home.
Call us today to learn more about how we use a positive approach to care and all the ways we are able to implement the highest quality of care for your loved one.