New Cognitive Care Program
Almost 50 million people worldwide are known to have dementia, which is the name for a group of progressive brain syndromes that affect thinking, memory, behavior and emotion. Among the over 100 forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most widespread, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. An estimated 5.7 million people in America are living with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s Disease International, an umbrella organization of some 90 Alzheimer’s associations around the globe, notes, “Dementia is the leading cause of disability and dependency among the elderly.” Early-onset dementia can affect individuals younger than 65, but the majority of individuals with dementia are seniors. As dementia symptoms advance, the person may struggle with memory loss, performing regular tasks and finding the right words to communicate. The Alzheimer’s Association in the U.S. reports that one in three American seniors dies from Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
Standing Together Against Dementia
To provide more extensive support to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia, Right at Home partnered with a leading dementia expert, Jackie Pool, to develop a proprietary Cognitive Support Program. Debbie Friedman, Right at Home’s Director of Organizational Learning, summarized the three key components of the program:
1. Focusing on Abilities “We focus on a person’s abilities instead of disabilities,” Friedman explains. “We look for what someone can still do and give that person as much opportunity as possible to maximize what he/she is still able to do.”
2. Teaming With Families Friedman notes that caregiving for dementia and cognitive-challenged individuals is a “journey for families that should not be done alone. We coach families on how to better interact with their loved one.”
3. Providing Person-Centered Care Pool’s groundbreaking work with person-centered care directs caregivers to view the world through the eyes of the person with cognitive changes. “I describe ‘person-centered’ as learning what makes each of us unique snowflakes,” Friedman explains. “We all are different and we all have different likes. Who was the person before the disease? We need to understand what brings meaning and joy to each person and makes life worth living.
“Our mission is to improve the quality of life for those we serve, which includes not only our clients, but also their families, friends and neighbors,” Friedman continues. “People want to help their loved ones who are struggling with cognitive issues, but they don’t know how. The Cognitive Support Program gives them the how.”
“A diagnosis of dementia, Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline does not mean that life is over,” Friedman adds. “There are ways to continue having quality of life. Our Cognitive Support Program aims at helping people understand how to make that quality of life happen. Our goal is to give dementia clients and their families something to look forward to instead of something to dread.”