Peo­ple with de­men­tia have a right to en­joy a good qual­ity of life

The Malta Business Weekly - - COMPANY NEWS -

De­men­tia is the re­sult of a num­ber of con­di­tions mainly Alzheimer’s dis­ease. Its symp­toms are di­verse and may af­fect peo­ple in dif­fer­ent ways. It’s a pro­gres­sive dis­ease and one which brings with it a jour­ney of heartache and pain for the per­son and their care­givers.

One of the things a per­son with de­men­tia may find is the dif­fi­culty to ini­ti­ate a con­ver­sa­tion or an ac­tiv­ity them­selves. When no one else does any­thing to en­gage their at­ten­tion the per­son has no choice but to re­treat into their own thoughts. Some­times these thoughts bring fear or ap­pre­hen­sion as they take the per­son to places or sit­u­a­tions that they do not un­der­stand and hence the con­fu­sion and ag­gres­sion may in­crease

The ded­i­cated ward for de­men­tia at Sim­blija Home, The But­ter­fly Unit, is de­signed to de­crease this con­fu­sion. “We need to be cre­ative as the mind of a per­son with de­men­tia just works dif­fer­ently – “For in­stance we in­stalled mem­ory boxes out­side the front doors of the rooms and also made the doors of their rooms look like their house doors in their favourite colour. Peo­ple with de­men­tia will be more likely to iden­tify with a fam­ily photo or a pic­ture of them­selves (some­times of when they were younger), then a room num­ber or name that they are likely to for­get or lose the abil­ity to read. All these things per­son­alise their care, make it in­di­vid­u­alised and dig­ni­fied. To­gether with dif­fer­ent colour schemes these act as ‘way find­ing’ mak­ing their lives eas­ier and lessen the con­fu­sion,” Char­maine At­tard, gen­eral man­ager of Sim­blija Home within AX Group com­mented.

We also need to spark an in­ter­ac­tion with the per­son us­ing dif­fer­ent chan­nels and dif­fer­ent tools − Sim­blija Care Home is a leader in cham­pi­oning ac­tiv­i­ties. Char­lotte Stafrace from AC­Tive Age­ing pro­vides drama-based projects that truly in­ject new life into our res­i­dents. They play cha­rades, wave with scarfs, rem­i­nisce – Char­lotte does any­thing that can en­tice their imag­i­na­tion. Once a month a group of vol­un­teers from K9 search and res­cue Malta come with their res­cue dogs to in­ter­act and play with our res­i­dents.

Jess Rymer comes on a weekly ba­sis and sings old songs. “It’s amaz­ing to see how a per­son that would oth­er­wise sit qui­etly in their chair starts hum­ming the old tunes and even sings along their favourite one or how a per­son who nor­mally says noth­ing comes alive when they in­ter­act with the dogs,” Char­maine con­tin­ues.

“It is these mo­ments that show that we have the right for­mula. Peo­ple with de­men­tia are strug­gling to keep mem­o­ries to­gether and I deeply be­lieve that we are here to help them try and piece these mem­o­ries to­gether and give them new happy mem­o­ries with this kind of in­ter­ac­tion, en­vi­ron­ment and care. By do­ing this we are there to as­sist them and their fam­i­lies on this jour­ney as part­ners in care, mak­ing the jour­ney less lonely and fear­some,” con­cluded Char­maine.

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