Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Alheimer's Disease: The Disease of the 21st Century?

One of my passions is to find ways to communicate with patients with AD and other dementias. For over 5 years I have researched methods and techniques to communicate spirituality to these patients. In future posts I will examine the role of the hospice chaplain as he or she interacts with the patient afflicted with a dementia. In preparing for a nation-wide webinar, "Communicating Spirituality to Patients with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias", for the Association of Professional Chaplains, my study led to me to some staggering statistics published by the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners. These facts led me to conclude that dementia of all types will be the disease of the 21st century. The findings are as follows: By 2050, 11.5-15 million Americans will have a dementia-related condition. Currently, 24 million people world-wide have a dementia-related condition. By 2040, it is projected that 84 million persons will have a dementia-related condition. These figures arrest our attention. This informs my work as a spiritual care leader to recognize this disease is not going away and spiritual care providers must develop skills in communicating with these persons. One of the common themes in conversations with hospice chaplains when it comes to working with dementia patients centers on frustration in not knowing how to communicate. I have developed a toolkit,The Communication Care Kit , which contains the multi-sensory tools to enhance a spiritual care visit. There will more to say about this in future blogs. In conclusion, dementia is being diagnosed at a rapid rate. It is absolutely incumbent that the hospice chaplain learn how to communicate with these souls.

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