A resident that is confused, upset, and devastated because they don’t remember where they are or, at times, even who they are is extremely difficult to watch. They often wander around aimlessly with the most worried look, looking for just the smallest reminder of what their life is about because their brain will not do it for them any longer. The endless tears and emotional outrage that overcomes them can heart wrenching.
Caregivers are endlessly looking for ideas and support to help their resident through these difficult times. Over the years, countless ideas have emerged. We have moved away from the pills and sedation that was actually used not that long ago, and have since developed ways to ease their mind and make them more comfortable in a much safer manner. From the smell of freshly baked bread to the sound of music from their high school days, new ideas and studies are overtaking the dementia world.
One study I came across mentioned that the simple weight of a heavy blanket would actually help calm an individual. You take a blanket that is specially made to be heavy, usually 10 to 20 lbs, and cover up with it. That is it. At first, I thought that it was ridiculous because it would make you feel ‘stuck’ in a sense and unable to get away. I quickly realized that I was looking at it all wrong after diving deeper into research. In reality, this blanket will make you feel safe and secure just like if you being wrapped up in a nice long hug. Try to think of a child and where they would instantly run for safety. Of course, the answer is that they would scurry right into their parents lap! As they get older, they bury themselves under the covers because; let’s face it, a 6 foot tall, 16 year old teenage boy looks quite ridiculous in the lap of a mom half their size. Some say, as dementia progresses, the mind gets younger. Their sense of security and stability is stripped from them piece by piece, and finally we have something to help them feel safe.
After buying one to try in our memory support unit here at Asbury Park, I quickly got the chance to try it.The magic I have seen before my eyes is truly a miracle. Literally what takes hours to calm my terribly upset resident, took 5 minutes. They actually fell asleep! The calming effect it has on anxiety is mind blowing. Relief is what you see on their face instead of concern. The only way to describe it is beautiful. Although there is no cure for this terrible disease, this rather simple idea is life changing to so many lives.
- Natasha Ketchem, LPN Nurse Manager Memory Support / Assisted Living