Understanding Memory Care: The Brain Tour

Gracewell  |  September 17, 2020

Jackie Pool, Director of Memory Care at Gracewell Healthcare is an occupational therapist specialising in dementia. With over 30 years’ experience, Jackie is at the forefront of her field in designing solutions for dementia care that put the person first.

Jackie recently took part in a three-part video series for Gracewell. In the second instalment, Jackie did a ‘brain tour’, where she spoke about the importance of understanding memory care.

Jackie began by defining dementia, and by using a memory game she calls ‘the brain game’, she exemplified how someone with impaired memory might have difficulty storing and categorising memories. She also clearly explained the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s, two terms often mistakenly used synonymously. Jackie said:

“Dementia is not one specific disease - it is a culmination of symptoms with many different causes.

Jackie says although they can be necessary as a last resort, anti-psychotic medicines can often do more harm than good to a person living with dementia. Often, a person’s behaviour mirrors emotions they struggle to express, and monitoring it can help understand the person’s well-being. She added:

“Validating a person’s experience, really shows the person that we understand how they are feeling. Rather than trying to sweep it away because we find it difficult to acknowledge”

Jackie broke down the best ways to help people living with mild, moderate, and more severe dementia:

When a person is living with a mild form of dementia, we should try to only step in when help is needed, providing memory joggers such as calendars, clocks, and lists.

When a person is living with moderate dementia, it will help them to break down activities into 2-3 steps at a time. It is also advised to used simple spoken language to communicate.

When a person is living with a more severe form, we should try to break activities down to single steps, using body language to communicate and focusing on the sensory experiences of each activity.

Jackie concluded:

“Don’t forget most people do have a mixture of causes when they experience dementia. The older we get, the more likely that is. And therefore, they are going to have a mixture of symptoms.

“The important thing is to understand the impact of symptoms on your person, and then think about ways of supporting them when you are with them.”

For more information about dementia care at Gracewell, click here: https://www.gracewell.co.uk/care-types/dementia-care.