Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA, is a dementia care and education specialist with a background in occupational therapy and over 30 years of experience, which has taught her a lot about how people with dementia think and what can be done to help them cope with this horrible disease.
In an effort to improve care and quality of life for dementia patients (and their caregivers), Teepa leads classes and seminars focused on difficult dementia-related situations. Her goal is to help caregivers understand the situation from a different perspective—the perspective of someone with dementia—and then give them tools to use in difficult everyday situations as a caretaker.
In the video below, Teepa talks about what to do when you need to bathe a person with dementia who is resistant to the idea of getting undressed or getting into the bath. She explains how to make the person as comfortable as possible and how to explain things in a way they understand.
While most of these tips make sense, they’re not things we generally think about doing. When the goal is to get the patient a bath, few caretakers are thinking about what might make the experience more comfortable. But making sure the room is warm, only having one other person in the room, and covering the patient’s private areas with a towel will go a long way to ensuring that he or she is comfortable, which will make the experience of bathing him or her much easier.
The most interesting part of this demonstration? It starts off with a handshake. It’s a simple and counterintuitive trick, but it just might be the thing a person with dementia has been needing to convince them you’re a friend and you’re here to help.
The best part about Teepa is that you can’t get bored while you listen to her talk. She’s entertaining and engaging and loves to get her audiences involved in her roleplays. She flings her hands, makes sarcastic remarks, and always makes her audiences laugh. Plus, her facial expressions are hilarious!
You’re not going to want to miss this demonstration. If anybody can make you really understand what it’s like to be someone with dementia, it’s Teepa!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?