According to an estimate by The Alzheimer Society of Canada, within 15 years, 937,000 Canadians will be living with some form of dementia. There are multiple kinds of dementia that have different causes and somewhat different symptoms. However, all involve a progressive decline in memory and mental capability. Patients with dementia eventually require a lot of assistance to get through their daily lives.
Whatever position students in healthcare training pursue after graduation, odds are good that they will encounter an individual with dementia at some point in their career. To help shed light on what you can expect from individuals with this disease, here are a few facts worth knowing.
1. Grads of Healthcare Courses Can Expect Some Emotional Fluctuation from Dementia Patients
It is a myth that all dementia patients become violent, but some patients do experience emotional difficulty as their disease progresses. Some may become less interested in things they once enjoyed, and less likely to express emotion. Others can become more aggressive, or suspicious that the people around them are keeping secrets from them. Some people can flip back and forth. It is also good to understand that patients’ emotional fluctuations may be a result of frustration with their condition, and not a symptom.
Whether interacting with patients living with dementia in a long-term care facility, at a medical or dental office, in a hospital, or at home, healthcare professionals should do their best to remain calm when faced with emotionally difficult situations. Graduates of Academy of Learning Career College’s (AOLCC) healthcare courses can draw on the person to person communication they developed in their coursework to accomplish this goal. For example, students in the Health Care Aide program learn to effectively manage tense situations in their Dealing With Problems and Conflict class, while students in the Dental Administrative Assistant program learn about patient needs and communication pathways through their Dental Administrative Assistant Level 3 class. Applying these skills, and having a bit of understanding, will help you create a more pleasant environment for the patients you encounter.
2. You May Find Yourself Working Alongside Stressed Family Members
According to recent statistics, $24 to 31 billion dollars worth of unpaid care is provided by Canadian volunteers. These people are typically working to help loved ones manage the difficulties presented by various diseases, including dementia. They often provide anything from home care to assist in going to appointments.
While this family involvement can help to ensure patients get a higher level of care, it can also lead to potential disagreement when your responsibilities overlap with their preconceptions or desires.
For small requests, one of the best ways to avoid conflict will be to simply go along with the desires of the patient’s family. If, however, health care aides are asked to do something that conflicts seriously with their healthcare theory training, it will be wise to alert your employer to the demands of the family and allow them to resolve the potential conflict. This will allow you to ensure the patient receives proper care while avoiding unnecessary conflict with well-intentioned family members.
3. Many Health Care Career Workers Are Needed to Care for People With Dementia
Students considering healthcare careers can expect to see a huge increase in the number of dementia patients requiring long-term care. The Canadian Medical Association points to an increase in the number of patients with dementia as being one of the reasons there will be a greater need for health care services in the future. Unsurprisingly, the Government of Canada Job Bank projects healthcare-related positions will be in demand in the future.
It is not only that positions in direct health care aide work will be available. The care requirements for individuals with dementia are such that more medical office assistants, health unit coordinators, and dental administration workers will be needed as well. Positions can include everything from office work, to opportunities with specialized services that bring care services directly to at-home patients, or those in care facilities. There are many approaches taken to meet the needs of patients with dementia, and with those come many opportunities for new entrants to healthcare professions.
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