Advocacy, Antipsychotic drugs, Toward better care

teepa talks antipsychotics: 6 quotable quotes

When I read reporter Gillian Slade’s Medicine Hat News article on Teepa Snow’s perspective on antipsychotics, the quotes jumped out at me. It was the first time I’d “heard” Teepa speak out so clearly about how antipsychotic medications often make things worse rather than better for people who live with dementia.

I thought it would be worthwhile to highlight and share the quotes:

1 ) “Anti-anxiety drugs can actually cause people to put chairs through windows, put their fist right through a window, have cuts all over their hands and they would keep going. They have to get out of there…they’re going to die anyway so they may as well do whatever they have to.”

2 ) “If you just lock doors or tie me down, what that shows is you’re committed to enforcing this ‘concentration camp’ and I fight the restraints as long and as hard as I can.”

3 ) “It’s called ‘you go with their flow’ because you can’t fix their delusion.”

4 ) “You can’t be so focused on getting tasks done that you forget that you’re doing those tasks to a human being.”

5 ) “The problem is they [antipsychotics] are used as blankets. You throw this heavy blanket over somebody…it limits attention, focus, motor ability and sensory awareness.”

6 ) “We aren’t allowed to do this [physically or chemically restrain] with any other population but we feel free to do it with dementia. You can’t do it in prisons, you can’t arbitrarily restrain somebody over a long period of time.”

Teepa and I are of one mind on this: the more positive approaches to care are learned and practiced, the less care workers and care partners will feel challenged by the behavioural expressions of PLWD, the less drugs PLWD will be given.

When PLWD are given fewer antipsychotic medications, they will be less likely to fall and to become agitated. They will also be better equipped to continue to engage life as fully as possible until the end.

I invite you to flesh out the bones of these quotes by reading Gillian Slade’s excellent interview-based article on the Medicine Hat News here

More information on antipsychotics.

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Advocacy, Quotes, Teepa Snow, Toward better care

6 ways to create better dementia care relationships

It's about relationships Teepa Snow

Here are six concrete ways I learned to forge a more positive relationship with my mom who lived with dementia. The way we approach things is often more important than getting them done. Although ironically, better relationships make it easier to get things done more efficiently and effectively.

1) listen

Open your eyes, ears, hands and heart. Be observant. Pay attention to nuances in behaviour. Listen with your whole being to what’s being said by your care partner who lives with dementia. You may be amazed that people who seem to have lost their ability to communicate can in fact make their needs known and connect at profound levels. Listen to be enriched. Listen to be more effective in how you engage.

2) agree

As I and a host of others have said many many times before and as all smart care partners eventually come to realize, it pays to agree:

Say “Yes, and…” to your care partner who lives with dementia. Go with their flow. When you do, your life and theirs will change for the better.

3) create/hold space

Make space for your care partner who lives with dementia to be who he or she is, whatever that means on the day or in the moment. Don’t try to make her or him into something she or he isn’t, and that includes wishing they were who they used to be. Remember that the core of who they are is is sill there, even though her or his self may manifest in different ways. Make space for the present and celebrate who they are in the moment. (More about that here.)

4) take care of yourself

Caring for yourself is vital. That means doing whatever it takes to find support, get respite, and have time away from your care partnering role. “Put the oxygen on yourself first,” everyone says – and for good reason! Your health is critical to your own and your care partner’s well being. If you don’t take care of yourself, there’s no way you can care for somebody else in the long term. Self care is not optional, it’s essential to having a good care partner relationship and less stressful experience.

5) walk away before you explode

“I didn’t mean what I said! I can’t believe I was so cruel…” These are the words of care partners who are falling apart at the seams. They are exhausted, depleted, at the end of their ropes, and they have said and done things they would never normally say or do because they have not paid attention to #4. If you find yourself at this level of crisis, walk away before you say or do something that will make the situation even worse. Give yourself time and space to breathe and recoup — a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, whatever it takes to get yourself back together.

6) walk back when you are strong enough

Because of the stigma of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, people who live with dementia often become isolated when they most need our love and support. When you’re strong enough, and you are ready to take their hand again and walk by their side, please do so. They need you. If you can’t do it personally, help and support those who are able to do so in your place.

These tips and thoughts are based on my personal experience, as well as my knowledge and work as a dementia care trainer and coach.

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Take my short survey on behaviour here.

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