Dementia toolkits help simulate difficulties of dementia – Chico Enterprise-Record

Prestige Assisted Living created “dementia toolkits” to help staff and families understand what dementia patients struggle with in their day-to-day lives.

The toolkits were created for all of the communities that offer Expressions Memory Care, which includes Oroville, Marysville and Chico. Prestige says the toolkits have become an aid in helping families with loved ones facing cognitive decline develop empathy and understanding of cognitive disabilities.

“We found that during the pandemic, we needed some extra training for our staff who were not able to get in those training classes,” Angie Frantz, the product manager at Prestige Assisted Living, said. “So we developed these toolboxes that have components in them to help train to see what it’s like for one of our residents to have dementia or Alzheimer’s.”

The toolbox has a Prestige Assisted Living sticker on it and has a few items inside that hep with training. The first item inside of the toolbox is a pair of swimming goggles that have been blacked out with permanent marker around the peripherals. There is also green in the center of the eye space on the goggles.

This helps with the understanding that people with dementia have a really difficult time seeing. Their vision changes because of the changes in their brain. Frantz said that a lot of the time, dementia patients lose their peripheral vision. She said that many times, these patients have spots in their vision and can have a hard time understanding colors, which is why the goggles have green in the center.

The next item in the toolkit is a small radio that is connected to earphones. When training, the radio is tuned to a staticky station, which mimics what the hearing is like when someone has dementia or Alzheimer’s.

“That helps us to understand that we might need to speak a little bit higher or a little bit lower to them,” Frantz said. “So they can hear us or understand us.”

The third item in the toolkit is a pair of garden gloves with the rubber tips on the fingers. The gloves help the staff understand what it’s like to have a tingling or numbness in the hands and dementia patients might feel. Frantz said that this can make it difficult for dementia of Alzheimer’s patients to button a shirt or use a zipper.

The toolkit also has a pair of slippers with spiky inserts that can help show staff how it might feel for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s to walk. Frantz said that the pain in someone’s feet can cause them to be unsteady and fall easily.

The fifth item in the toolkit is a dementia training on brain changes guide. It details all of the changes that happen in the brain of a dementia of Alzheimer’s patient. Frantz said that the brain changes affect the whole body and senses.

“Family members have a really difficult time with mom or dad or a loved one that is behaving differently, and they don’t understand why or how to communicate with them,” Frantz said. “And so this helps them have an idea of better communication and understanding for them.”

She said that there has been great success with these kits at other facilities. All of Prestige Assisted Living’s are implementing these toolkits for staff training.

“It’s certainly been a help to everybody and helping family members understand the best way to talk to mom or dad or understanding some of their behaviors that are going along with a deficit in some area,” Frantz said. “So this helps us to be better communicators and better caregivers in our communities.”