Hi Chad. Can you tell us about working with a client who has dementia?
“My Grandmother had vascular dementia. The dementia training taught me how to work with someone with dementia and I learned where I had gone wrong with my Grandmother.
So when I arrived at my first client with dementia, I was really interested. I could see behaviour that was very similar to my Grandmother’s, which really made me determined to put my training into action.
This was my first client, and I think I did a good job and coped well with the difficult parts.”
Why was that?
“I had the confidence to do the job because of the training. With Gran, I had had no idea of what to do, but after the training, I knew how to look after my client with dementia.
I would wake up, and see how he was, what sort of mood he was in, how tired he was and then we would see what we wanted to do that day. During the day, we’d do what he wanted – it was fascinating to see how if he wanted to go out, even if he had appeared to be really tired, he would find the energy to go out.
And it was amazing to learn how fast my client’s positive reactions could be. If he wasn’t happy, I knew he really loved music – so switching on his favourite music could really make a difference.”
And what are the good bits about caring for someone with dementia?
“What I really like is that there is no set routine. Every day is different and the time passes so fast. You wake up and see how your client is feeling, and then all day you are playing it by ear, seeing how your client is, what he wants to do, how he is feeling and reacting to that.
My client has such a nice personality, but he would just get so frustrated by everyday life – seeing him battle to get around was really difficult.”
What’s one piece of advice about caring for someone with dementia?
I’ve actually got three:
- Take each day as it is, don’t try to plan.
- Don’t take anything personally – remember, if someone says something “it’s not the person talking, it is the illness”.
- And you can always be pleasantly surprised. I was!