Throughout your career you will choose who you wish to treat. You can choose a spa setting where your main focus is providing relaxation and stress relief, work with pregnant moms or sports injury patients or work in a senior care facility. If you choose to provide massage therapy to the elderly there are special rewards you will gain from providing care to those in need of attention and care. You will also face challenges especially when dealing with patients with dementia. Knowing how to deal with the very special needs of dementia patients will help you remain professional while providing the compassion required to work with them successfully.
Communication with Dementia Patients
One of the greatest struggles care givers face is communicating with patients with dementia. Dementia can cause sudden changes in communication which can provide unforeseen road blocks even in mid treatment. As well you might find some patients communicate using non-verbal cues or even through touch. Understanding that human contact is a need we all share will be a good start to remaining patient with dementia patients. It may take a while to learn what communication works best with each patient and it may be difficult when one day your patient is perfectly fine and communicative and completely shut down the next. Learning to expect these changes will make caring for each patient a little easier. As well, when patients are having difficulty communicating sometimes simply stating you are aware they are trying to communicate are not certain what they are trying to say can help validate their feelings. Many people treat patients with dementia less respectively speaking to them like children. Unless your patient responds to this tone and approach it is best to be respectful and treat them as an adult using kind and gentle tones.
First Contact and Appointment
When you have your first appointment with a dementia patient approach them as you would any of your patients and introduce yourself warmly and politely. Always maintain eye contact when possible and explain to them you are there to provide care and a therapeutic massage. It is not uncommon for dementia patients to be unaware of appointments they require or what treatments their doctors have recommended for them. When dealing with any elderly patients it is always a good idea to speak loudly and clearly in case they have hearing issues. Most will have the gumption to tell you to stop shouting if they don’t have hearing problems. Ask them the name they prefer and make a note of this in their chart. This way you will remember to use their preferred name as opposed to general terms such as dear. This is more respectful. If you need to ask them questions speak slowly and clearly and wait for their response. Elderly patients and patients with dementia may take longer to respond than you expect.
Elderly patients are people with the same interests, feelings and emotions as any other patients you will treat. Learning the proper way to deal with your dementia patients will help you maintain a caring, yet professional relationship.