MED e-care Blog

Dancing with Dementia

By Len Fabiano  |  15 November 2017


Dancing or caring for a dementia client with challenging behaviors involves complex steps. The complexity is created by two basic issues associated with dementia - the progressive brain damage caused by the disease, and the increasing and ever changing sensitivity to stimuli and environmental factors.

The destructive nature of the diseases causing dementia can result in the brain shrinking up to 40% in weight and size. The progressive nature of the disease means that the client’s abilities and needs are always changing. New symptoms will develop with little warning, existing symptoms will become more intense and complex, past symptoms will disappear. This ebb and flow creates a unique rhythm. If we are not in step, unable to identify what is happening, unable to assess the changes, unable to define the appropriate supportive measures and communicate them to all caregivers then the behavior will only intensify.

But the complexity of the dance is even greater. As the disease progresses and the symptoms change so will the individual’s vulnerability to the stimuli around him. Many external factors influence this individual’s behavior. When they are not understood, when what distresses him is not assessed, and the needed supports are not implemented, his behavioral response will only intensify. To be out of step with a dementia client with challenging behaviors will always create negative results for all.

Behavior care is an investigative approach to care. Although many dementia clients do not have the ability to tell us directly what they require, their behavior will always direct us to what is needed. The caregiver must develop an intimate knowledge about the client in order to identify what is happening and determine the appropriate course of action. Clear documentation, ongoing assessment and effective communication are critical components to our success with this clientele.

Condensed excerpt from Len Fabiano’s book “Dancing with Dementia: Success with Supportive Therapy

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Topic: in Know-How, in Dementia

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