DHEC recognizes Alzheimer’s and Dementia Staff Education Week by highlighting the importance of the training and education of the exceptional staff that care for patients all across South Carolina, including in nursing homes, community residential care facilities, and providers, such as in-home care providers and home health agencies. DHEC’s Healthcare Quality regulates 207 facilities that offer memory care services.
Providers and staff at Alzheimer’s care facilities are always learning as much as possible on how to both better prevent and improve treatments for dementias, but they have also been faced with the new challenge of educating themselves on COVID-19 infection control and prevention. These individuals have had to quickly adapt to evolving requirements and recommendations regarding physical contact, visitors, and daily routines for patients.
Changes to routines, use of unfamiliar personal protective equipment (PPE), and disruption to daily schedules are enough to confuse anyone, but Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are at an increased risk of depression and worsening behavioral changes, such as agitation, aggression, and wandering.
DHEC is proud of the amazing providers and staff at these facilities who have helped make these new transitions easier for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, while still prioritizing their treatments and care. We have witnessed families and caregivers working with providers and Alzheimer’s care facility staff to develop new ways to improve the mental health of their loved ones suffering from dementias as well as their physical health.
While adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Guidance for Caregivers of People Living with Dementia in Community Settings and Considerations for Memory Care Units in Long-Term Care Facilities, these staff members also benefit from the general public learning more about prevention and warning signs of dementias. Healthcare Quality team members have helped answer questions memory care staff may have concerning such guidance.
DHEC celebrates these individuals and strongly encourages the community to continue to learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia in order to help improve lives.
Know the Signs
Besides celebrating the individuals that care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, DHEC’s Healthcare Quality wants you to know the onset signs of such healthcare concerns. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, some signs and symptoms that could indicate the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s may include:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
Upon receiving a diagnosis, caregivers and their loved ones are faced with a long list of questions. How long until the disease progresses? Can I afford long-term care for my loved one? How can I anticipate their needs?
Now facing the reality of living with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future, new concerns and fears start to emerge as well. It is due to the industrious efforts and ongoing education of providers and staff at Alzheimer’s care facilities and in the community that these patients can be cared for with the utmost respect, knowledge, and safety.