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Person-Centered Cognitive Support

For countless people, the following are familiar scenarios: (1) You are restless and decide to step outside for a walk, but find all the doors to your home locked; (2) You wake up from a nap to find a person you don’t recognize cooking in your kitchen; (3) You talk with your family but always end up trailing off somewhere in your conversations. These frustrating and uncomfortable experiences are common for individuals with cognitive change, a decline of mental functioning that can affect memory, reasoning, language and judgment. Cognitive change, outside of the natural aging process, stems from a number of causes including head injury, stroke and neurological conditions. Even lifestyle factors can increase cognitive change. Millions of Americans with vascular risks such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity show higher odds of cognitive limitations. Currently, an estimated 5.5 million people in the United States live with Alzheimer’s dementia and about 5.3 million of these individuals are age 65 and older. Nationwide, an increasing number of family caregivers are independently caring for their loved ones who are experiencing cognitive change like Alzheimer’s dementia. Over time, these family caregivers may find they need support from professional care providers, such as Right at Home, to ensure their loved ones are receiving the specialized care required for a person living with progressive cognitive change. “We help our clients living with cognitive change stay safe and comfortable in their own home environment as long as possible,” said Glenn Fechtenburg, RN. Right at Home The Villages, Lake & Sumter Counties. “We benefit individuals with cognitive change and their families by offering a person-centered care approach. Our in-home caregiving focuses on what each individual client needs and prefers, not what we think fits into our full-range of services.” Fechtenburg, RN notes that Right at Home is currently introducing a proprietary RightCare approach to dementia and cognitive support, created in collaboration with Jackie Pool, a leading dementia expert and British occupational therapist. Pool is a global authority on improving the lives of those living with cognitive change and was mentored by Tom Kitwood, the world-renowned pioneer in person-centered dementia support. Pool’s more than 30 years of dementia research and direct patient care experience, including her own mother’s dementia, adds seasoned depth to the Right at Home approach to cognitive support. Pool’s advancements with dementia support consider that all clients have abilities to interact and connect with their surroundings, regardless of the severity or progression of cognitive change. This personalized cognitive support centers around the concept of “personhood.” Specially trained care managers create an individualized care plan that thoroughly encompasses everything about a person that makes them unique: character, preferences, interests, life history, skills and experiences.

“Some care providers simply assign cognitive clients to a regimen of generic care tasks,” said Fechtenburg, RN. “Instead, we make sure we know our clients. We learn about their past jobs and daily routines. We make sure we know their likes and dislikes. All these personal details and preferences matter in how we interact with and serve each parent, spouse, relative or friend with cognitive needs.” Pool points out that “a little magic snip of information,” such as what color the client prefers or a favorite sports team, can “make all the difference, and that needs to be integrated into the client’s daily care and interactions.” Pool shares a poignant example from her mother’s care to illustrate how knowing a client’s personhood can significantly affect their continued well-being and social interactions. “My mum would say so often to caregivers, ‘I’m going to go and visit the House of Commons.’ Now some of the staff thought, ‘Oh, she thinks she’s in London; she’s confused,’” Pool said. “The House of Commons is all about the government. But my mum’s phrase of visiting the House of Commons means that she is going to use the restroom.” Knowing a client’s quirky sayings, habits and routines helps identify meaningful and enjoyable activities for each client to participate in, rather than imposing on them a list of mandated care tasks. Professional caregivers trained in person- centered care work with the client’s family and support networks to help them understand why the client’s behaviors, interactions and personality may change based on what Right at Home has learned about their personhood. While in-home care agencies may bypass the family in the cognitive support process, Right at Home offers the family coaching and support on how to communicate better and reconnect with their loved one. “The continued cognitive research by Pool and other brain health experts is proving that through person-centered care, people with cognitive change are experiencing fewer symptoms and living independently longer,” Fechtenburg, RN added. “We are honored to assist so many incredible individuals and their families as they walk through the day-to-day challenges of cognitive change.” For more information about person-centered care or cognitive support, contact the local Right at Home office at 352-835-0101. About Right at Home Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companionship, personal care and assistance to seniors and disabled adults who want to continue to live independently. Right at Home’s global office is based in Omaha, Nebraska, with offices located in 45 states nationwide and throughout the world. For more information on Right at Home, visit About Right at Home at http://www.rightathome.net/about-us or read the Right at Home caregiving blog at http://www.rightathome.net/blog. To sign up for Right at Home’s free adult caregiving e-newsletter, Caring Right at Home, visit http://caringnews.com.

About Right at Home of The Villages, Lake and Sumter Counties The Villages, Lake and Sumter Counties office of Right at Home is a licensed home health agency that specializes in helping seniors stay independent in their home. All caregivers are directly employed and supervised, each of whom is thoroughly screened, trained, and bonded/insured prior to entering a client’s home. Our services range from providing transportation to and from appointments to full one on one nursing care for you or your loved one. For more information, contact Right at Home of The Villages, Lake and Sumter Counties at WWW.RAHFL.com, 352-835-0101 or by email at Info@rahfl.com

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