Regaining Independence: Noreen’s Story
There was a time, not too long ago, when Noreen’s life was upside down.
Just into her 60’s, she began to experience memory loss and frequently felt agitated and confused. As a few years passed, Noreen’s struggles increased. She began having a hard time in social situations and could no longer keep up with conversations. She became more and more isolated. Noreen was very social and the isolation caused her to become depressed. She also experienced increased difficultly caring for herself.
In her confusion, she would often visit the emergency department unnecessarily.
After one of her emergency department visits, Noreen was diagnosed with dementia and was referred to the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) for assessment and support.
Along with her daughter, CCAC Care Coordinator and Geriatric Emergency Management (GEM) Nurse it was determined the most supportive setting for Noreen would be a long-term care home in Fergus.
Noreen’s team worked hard to ensure the transition was as seamless as possible for Noreen, however, the stress of the change and perceived loss of independence caused Noreen to become even more agitated. She started resisting care from her caregivers.
Staff at the long-term care facility called on the support of the Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) team to assist them in helping Noreen manage the responsive behaviours caused by her dementia.
BSO is a provincial initiative, funded through the LHINs, that focuses on providing specialized care for those diagnosed with behavioural issues that are caused by conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
The team worked in collaboration with Noreen to identify areas of support. She had three goals: maintain her mood, improve her social life and regain some of her independence. To help Noreen achieve her goals, the BSO team implemented Montessori techniques - the use of repetitive tasks and recreation therapy to help dementia patients keep their minds active.
The BSO team also coached staff on how to use validation techniques to calm Noreen when she was anxious and gave tips on how to provide a supportive rather than a “do for” approach to help her remain as independent as possible.
To improve her social life and manage her anxiety, the team encouraged Noreen to engage in activities she enjoyed. Noreen used to be a painter and was especially fond of doves so, as part of a group art class, she began to paint them. This activity brought joy and relief from her depression and anxiety.
Noreen’s transition to long-term care went very well and thanks to the extra support from the BSO team, she has settled into the routine of her new home. Noreen paints every chance she gets and her family is especially grateful to see her be able to enjoy the things she used to do.