Editor’s note: We begin a new column today by Lesia Henderson.Henderson has lived in Sampson County all her life. She has been married 40 years to Tommy Henderson. They have two adult children and have five grandchildren. She is a member of Piney Green Baptist Church. Lesia works at the Sampson County Department of Aging as the Family Caregiver Support Specialist. She works with senior grandparents raising their grandchildren and works with family caregivers that are caring for people living with Alzheimer’s. She conducts many workshops that provide our community with knowledge about certain issues our senior population face. She also provides assistance to those families that live with dementia. Lesia was recently certified as a Positive Approach to Care Trainer.
Many families have been affected by Dementia. If you have not been affected personally you probably know families that have been. Before we get started let’s get a clear understanding as to what Dementia is. Dementia, according to the dictionary is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. Dementia is an umbrella term and has 85-90 different conditions. Alzheimer’s is the number one condition of Dementia. Many people think dementia comes with getting older, however it does not. Dementia is progressive; it will get worse, it is chronic, terminal and it will result in death. Dementia causes a person’s visual field to get smaller and smaller. They will lose safety awareness with the loss of peripheral vision. Early in this disease people will miss 1 out of 4 words when speaking. A lot of people living with Dementia go mute; they may give up speaking and cling to a spokesperson, usually a primary caregiver.
Caring for a person living with Dementia is very challenging. The caregiver will have many obstacles to face each day. It is vital that the caregiver gets the support they need from families, friends and others.
If you suspect a family member or a friend are showing signs of dementia you really should get a baseline. This can be done relatively simple and it will be extremely helpful. It is called the Animal Fluency Test. You have a person name as many animals as they can within a minute’s time and mark each time they name a different animal. After one minute is up count the number of marks. Maybe try again within six months or within a year. If you notice a significant decline in the number of animals named, it could be an indication of cognitive impairment. Another suggestion would be to document behavior, if you have suspicions of dementia. Checking skill set and depth of vocabulary will give a good baseline and could be vital information to your health care provider.
I am a Certified Positive Approach to Care Independent Trainer. I was trained by Teepa Snow; she is a Dementia Training Specialist with over 30 years of experience. Teepa Snow is the founder of Positive Approach. I am very fortunate to have been trained by such an esteemed person. It is my mission to educate our community here in Sampson County and help family caregivers, professional caregivers and others how to approach a person living with Dementia with a positive approach. During this weekly article, I will share many things about this disease that robs families of so much. I will give detailed information about the disease, caregiver tips, resources and more.
Come and join me and Marie Faircloth the second Tuesday of each month in the Dept. of Aging Training room. Marie and I facilitate the Dementia Education and Alzheimer’s Support Meeting. I encourage you to go on line and key in Teepa Snow. She has a wealth of information that will be beneficial to all caregivers.
Next week I will touch on Alzheimer’s and give some Caregiver Tips. Hope you all have a “Best Day Ever”.
Lesia Henderson is a Positive Approach to Care Independent Trainer and Sampson County Department of Aging Family Caregiver Support Specialist.