Video Showcases Excellent Training for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • One of my gripes with Mom’s nursing home was that some of the aides were not trained to work with people with dementia. I can remember how one aide demanded that Mom do certain tasks. Mom didn’t take to this aide’s gruff behavior and would get hostile. It got so bad that I started asking the nurses who were on duty to assign this aide to assist people other than my mother.

    And honestly, family and friends who are placed in caregiving positions also need to understand how to interact with a person with dementia. That means getting past preconceptions of how the  loved one used to be and identifying ways to interact in a loving and supportive manner.

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    But while caregiving, who has time to go to training? And how do you find good training? Well, the Pines of Sarasota has provided a concise and well-conceived answer to my questions. They have developed a DVD (which they sent to me to review) entitled “It’s All In Your Approach. The DVD focuses on a presentation led by Teepa Snow, a dementia expert and certified Occupational Therapist. Snow served for 35 years as a direct care giver and helped two family members who had dementia. She has clinical appointments with Duke University’s School of Nursing and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine. She also has served as the education director and lead trainer for the Eastern North Carolina Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

    I sat down to watch the Pines of Sarasota’s DVD, which lasts a little under two hours. And it turns out that my dad was very interested in watching the video as well.  He had been in a caregiving role when Mom was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. At that point, Dad knew that Mom was experiencing memory loss, but didn’t understand how to interact with Mom.  My parents clashed, and Mom started having regular angry outbursts at Dad. These proved to be very bruising emotionally to my dad.

    After watching the Pines of Sarasota tape, you could see the light bulb go on in Dad’s head as he understood what had been happening with Mom. “I enjoyed the presentation. It was excellent,” Dad told me later. “If I was in that position of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s now, I’d seriously consider investing in this DVD. And if I were still helping care for Mom, I would review it from time to time.”

    Why was he so pleased with the DVD? Part of it had to do with Snow’s demonstrations. During her interactions with caregivers who make up the audience, Snow realistically portrays how a person in different stages of Alzheimer’s would act. Therefore, the audience sees how their own actions can lead to an unexpected reaction in the person with Alzheimer’s. Snow also clearly describes why she makes various recommendations, such as the precise way to hold the hand of a person with Alzheimer’s. And she uses slides showing the brain of a normal person and that of a person with Alzheimer’s when she describes why changes happen in the person’s behavior.

  • Dad greatly appreciated Snow’s clear descriptions of the causes and effects that come with Alzheimer’s.  And he believes the information would have made a difference. “I’m sure it would have (changed my behavior) or at least I would have made the effort,” he said.

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    My only concern about the video was the camerawork. Because the DVD was taped during an actual workshop, a few stationary video cameras were utilized. However, at times (especially when Snow was role-playing with a caregiver), the set camera angles limited seeing what really happened with both parties during the interaction.  In addition, some of the slides that were comparing brains did not have show the details in writing. Although you could hear Snow talking about these slides (such as different areas in the front and back of the brain), you just saw a picture of two brains with no identification of these areas.

    The Pines of Sarasota, which is marketing the video, is a 62-year-old non-profit organization that cares for elderly that have outlived their financial resources. The organization currently cares for over 300 patients, many of which suffer from Alzheimer's or another form of dementia.

Published On: October 22, 2010