TheraChirps Blog

Dementia in the SNF

Treating patient’s with dementia is a difficult reality in the Skilled Nursing setting.  Some therapists are experts and embrace the challenge, while other shy away from the difficulties that will come.

When a patient is challenged by dementia, the ability to code-switch is damaged.  Therefore, the patient is constantly being barraged by verbal stimuli that may not be understood, regardless of the language by which it is presented.  Patients may respond by tuning out this highly distracting stimulus, which would feel similar to the noise of white static on the television.  This can be manifested by inattention or napping as a coping strategy. 

While therapy staff cannot eliminate the verbal stimulus that the patient hears as a normal part of living on the unit, they can eliminate verbal stimulus in a controlled environment of a treatment session.  With the reduction of outside stimulus and the use of visual cues during therapy sessions, the patient may be able to respond positively to pictures or gestures to indicate his needs. 

What types of strategies does your department utilize when treating patient’s with dementia?