See the glass as half full, not half empty

Stimulating the senses brings patients peace

There’s no place like home. That old saying rings true for all of us but even more so for adult dementia patients: Alzheimer’s patients often respond well to a less institutional environment, says Debbie Everett, BA, MTS, a chaplain with Edmonton General Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. "Encourage staff to think of all the senses and how to enrich the life of patients and promote peace by providing a pleasing, more homelike environment."

Questions that Everett suggests case managers ask when helping families select a long-term care facility for an Alzheimer’s patient include:

• Are there opportunities for residents to experience nature in and around the building?

• Is it possible for residents to work in a facility garden?

• Are residents allowed to own pets or have pets visit them?

• Are there opportunities to enjoy music?

• Does the facility do its own baking and fill the facility with the aroma of fresh-baked goods?

"When we hear a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, we tend to think negatively, as if there is no hope left," Everett says. "This prevents us from seeing what is left in this individual. We must refocus our outlook to see the good, healthy, wholesome things that are left in the individual with Alzheimer’s. We often have a hard time living fully in the moment. Alzheimer’s patients only have the moment, or the present, left. We must learn how to live in the moment with them." (For suggestions on selecting a nursing home, see story, p. 153. For more information on decreasing stress in Alzheimer’s patients, see story, p. 151.)

[Editor’s note: Everett’s book, Forget Me Not: Spiritual Care for People with Alzheimer’s, is available for $13.50 from Inkwell Press. For more information, contact: Inkwell Press, 15369-117th Ave., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5M3X4. Fax: (403) 452-5144.]