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What is a Dementia Unit?

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  • Written By: Laura Evans
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2016
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Dementia is characterized by a group of symptoms that negatively affect a person's quality of life and can ultimately lead to death. Diagnosis is made when a person is demonstrating failings of at least two brain functions that result in symptoms such as memory loss, paranoia, difficulty in learning and retaining new information, and inability to plan. A dementia unit is a facility or part of a nursing or adult care home that specializes in providing care for people who are afflicted with these problems.

There are no specific licensing requirements for a dementia unit. A person who is interested in placing a family member in such a facility might want to investigate several locations before making a placement decision. The person should take notes on specific qualifications to make an informed decision about the best unit available.

Noise levels are important to dementia patients. The quieter the facility, the better, as dementia patients can become distressed by exposure to continuous loud noises. The dementia unit should be located on a quiet street, not only to reduce overall noise, but to decrease the risks of a patient being hit by a car if the patient is outside.

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It is important for a dementia unit to be equipped with locked exit doors or have the patients wear alarm bracelets. This is for the protection of the residents. Wandering dementia patients can get lost, in addition to being at risk for being involved in car accidents or being robbed. If the facility has locked doors, it is important that the dementia unit have safety procedures in place in the event of a fire or other situations in which residents need to be evacuated.

Architecture is an important key to choosing a dementia unit. One-story buildings are preferable over multi-story buildings to reduce the risks of residents falling or becoming lost. In addition, a building with a circular "wandering zone" is preferable to one that only allows residents to wander in hallways. Wandering into dead ends can be frustrating for dementia patients.

The colors used to paint the facility can have an impact on residents' quality of life. Colors should be bold and "color coded." For example, all of the bedroom doors should be one color while the bathroom doors should be a different color.

Staffing is also an important factor in deciding on the best dementia unit. The lower the ratio of residents to staffers, the better. It is also important to find out if the staff has credentials or special training about how to work with people who have dementia.

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Drentel
Post 3

@Laotionne - I understand what you are saying about the benefits of keeping people with dementia in the same living areas as other residents who are still mentally healthy in a senior care home. However, one big problem with this is that people with dementia can create a lot of stress for the people around them.

Letting patients with dementia disease mingle with the general population in a senior care home is not fair to the healthier seniors.

Laotionne
Post 2

I didn't know residents were segregated in assisted living facilities when they have dementia. This is kind of sad. I think it is better for all of the residents to be able to interact. This way they can help one another. I have also heard that patients with dementia disease do better when they are around people who do not have dementia. This way they are able to practice their communication skills and not get worse and quickly.

mobilian33
Post 1

I worked as a caregiver in an adult living facility. The patients were divided into two groups. Some of them were in good health and capable of coming and going as they wanted. These people were housed at the front of the complex.

Dementia patients were housed in the back wing in the dementia unit. This section was separated by double doors that locked, and you couldn't get in or out without a code. You had to punch the code in on a keypad, and the code was changed every so often. Most of the dementia patients wouldn't have been able to use the code even if they knew it.

However, there was one patient who was in

the first stages of dementia, and she was an escape artist. She would get the code by asking some of the visitors who came in, or she would stand near the keypad and watch as people punched in the numbers.

She was convinced that we were holding her hostage for no reason. She didn't fully understand that we were trying to protect her. She escaped several times before she had to be equipped with a special leg monitor, so we could keep track of her whereabouts.

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