From Blog to Blog: Emphasizing Dr. Laird’s Advice to Those With Dementia

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I try to keep up with many resources in aging — scholarly journals, news media, and fellow bloggers.

This week I ran across a new blog — Dr. Rosemary Laird’s Caregiver Corner.

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Dr. Laird

Dr. Laird

Dr. Laird was the AGS Clinician of the Year in 2013 after establishing a caregiver center, case management program, and a physician home care program for healthcare systems in Florida. She recently started a blog to promote practical advice that older adults and their caregivers can use today.

Dr. Laird’s blog post for March focused on nutritional health for adults aged 50 and older. She advocated 5 “Keys to the Kingdom” for better nutrition:

  1. Eat meals according to the new food pyramid.
  2. Know your daily calorie guidelines.
  3. Check food labels.
  4. Drink water.
  5. Take your vitamins.

Individuals with dementia could definitely benefit from Dr. Laird’s advice, especially recommendation #4 — Drink Water.

First, dehydration can cause symptoms (e.g., confusion) that can be mistaken for dementiaNOTE: If re-hydration remedies symptoms, the cause was not dementia.

As an individual progresses through dementia, their ability to notice or tell someone, “I’m thirsty” decreases. Symptoms of dehydration in dementia include: cracked/dry lips, lower blood pressure, faster pulse, and increased confusion and mortality.

Dehydration should also first be ruled out as a factor for behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, since this medical condition is correlated with these challenging behaviors.

Hydration and its repercussions present particular challenges in dementia care. For one, individuals with dementia refuse to drink water. Recommendations include setting out visible reminders for patients, taking water into the community (when out), and incorporating foods with a high liquid count into their diet (e.g., popsicles, hot chocolate, broth-based soups). Future researchers could evaluate how various modeling procedures could help to increase compliance.

Secondly, caregivers may provide less than adequate hydration opportunities because the resulting effect is multiple trips to void, which may be a stressful and problematic routine for caregivers. Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) assess the individual environmental variables that influence challenging behaviors during these daily care routines and then train caregivers how to get through tasks with less occurrences of behavioral symptoms.

For more information on food and fluid intake in dementia, visit here.

Others blogs to check out: