Special training helps locals care for Alzheimer’s patients

Published 2:17 am Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Andalusia Manor administrator Trece Mays and director of nursing Vickie White said that communication is key when it comes to caring for patients with Alzheimer’s or other brain diseases.

“There are so many things that go into caring for a patient with Alzheimer’s,” White said. “But communication is a huge factor of it. There are so many of them that can’t communicate their needs. It is like caring for a newborn baby. For each particular resident, you have to learn their method of communication, whether that be acting out, negative behavior, crying or laughing.”

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, an opportunity to hold a conversation about the brain, and share the fact that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are a major public health issue.

Both Mays and White agreed that Alzheimer’s and all brain diseases are multidimensional diseases.

“There are no two patients that progress the same,” White said. “They may have the same behaviors, but there are no two patients that will progress the same.”

At first, Alzheimer’s disease typically destroys neurons and their connections in parts of the brain involved in memory, including the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. It later affects areas in the cerebral cortex responsible for language, reasoning, and social behavior. Eventually, many other areas of the brain are damaged. Over time, a person with Alzheimer’s gradually loses his or her ability to live and function independently. Ultimately, the disease is fatal.

Dementia describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. It is not one specific disease. Dementia affects thinking, behavior and the ability to perform every day tasks. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with the person’s normal social or working life.

“The patients brain cells are dying,” White said. “And since no brain is the same, it affects people differently.”

Mays and White said that their staff is trained heavily for the care of people with Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.

“We make sure that all of our staff is trained,” Mays said. “We have certified dementia trainers come in and we do a lot of role playing to make sure that they understand what is going on in that patient’s life.”

White said that the certified nurse assistants are the first line of caregivers at the manor.

“They know each resident that they take care of specifically,” White said. “They know the different behaviors for, let’s say, a Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones, and they know how to how to handle each individual resident.”

She said that the best part of caring for these patients is what they get back from it.

“You may have a resident that doesn’t recognize their family and hasn’t recognized their family for a long time,” White said. “Then one day they may come in and they will recognize them for a moment and it makes you realize that it is worth everything that you do.”

During the month of June, the Alzheimer’s Association® asks people around the world to wear Purple and use their brains to fight Alzheimer’s disease.