Needs of dementia patients

needs of dementia patients

Caring for a loved one with dementia is demanding. And it can drain the strength of the nurturer. That’s why time out is very important. But a vacation in a hotel is not always possible with someone suffering from dementia. An alternative here is the five-day time-out for dementia patients and their relatives at the catholic rural adult education center feuerstein (KLVHS) in ebermannstadt.

This fall, birgit pohl from the specialist center for carers at the diakonie and her team of volunteers once again invited people to the flintstone. Couples from the region, from berlin and from munich came to the meeting.

Not always the youngest either

The guests suffering from dementia are lovingly cared for by the volunteers, while the relatives can exchange information or even go on a tour. "I always go on a trip to forchheim with the members of my family. Because they are usually no longer the youngest, and here you can make good city tours", tells birgit pohl.

Atmosphere is drawn

Already on the bus to forchheim the mood is relaxed, because the members know that their loved ones are well taken care of. "Some people have a bad conscience at first because they think they can’t leave the dementia patient alone. But the visitors, who have already been with us, comfort them and explain to them that they do not have to worry", birgit pohl explains.

She goes on to say that it is important for the members to be able to let go and have time for themselves. During the time out, every person with dementia has a caregiver who takes care and watches over them; nothing has to be unpleasant.

Meanwhile the members can inform themselves about forchheim or can go shopping in the city. Afterwards we go to the cake buffet at cafe schmitt. In the evening, everyone meets again at the feuerstein and sits down together to round off a pleasant day.

In the mornings, the family members also have the opportunity to attend courses, while their spouses dance, sing, do handicrafts or play games with the volunteers. The leader of the course is stephan seeger from caritas. At the beginning, he addresses questions that move the listeners. On this day, the question is whether the relatives can also suffer from dementia.

Dementia is not contagious

"Dementia is not contagious. However, you don’t get out as much when you’re caring for a partner. There is a danger of becoming an orphan", seeger replies.

This morning, the focus is on communication with dementia patients, because this cannot be conducted on a factual level. "You always have to be good and explain everything already", says a lady. A man answers: "yes, and that sometimes 20 times." Another lady shakes her head sadly and says: "i would be happy if my husband asked me something 20 times". With us the coarse silence prevails."

The members can exchange ideas in the course and get a new view of their situation. A lady tells that her husband, when they go out now and then, then plotzlich wants home. "Mine only ever says yes or no", adds another course participant. Another woman reports that her husband asks her questions, but then scolds her when she explains something.

A lady told that she always asked her husband after day care what he had eaten, and he answered "meatloaf". She asked at the day care if there was nothing else, and learned that there had been apple strudel that very day.

Stephan seeger explains to the participants that it is not possible to communicate with dementia patients on a mental level: "it’s like talking to an iceberg. Above are the visible changes, but there are many more unseen needs. That’s why people with dementia need empathetic communication."

The big question is: "what is the truth about dementia??" The course instructor explains the so-called needs pyramid: the basis here is the physical needs such as eating, being free of pain or movement. If the dementia patient wants to go home, for example, one should not ask why, but whether he is hungry or in pain. The next level is security. This means that the person with dementia either does not want to understand or is afraid. This could also be a reason why the dementia patient from the example wants to go home. The third level is the social needs; he wants to communicate or to belong. In the example, the sick man may not feel accepted.

The top level

The next level is the need for validity. Here the dementia patient might still be important. And the top level is the self-actualization. The more advanced the dementia, the more it’s about the lower levels. This is also confirmed by the participants. And one lady says: "but the most important thing is to tell him again and again that you like him."