by Sylvia Ceja and Yuliana Trujillo, OLE Health
Almost 20% of Napa County residents are 65 or older, resulting in a large portion of our population being at risk for conditions like dementia. The Napa County Navigator Training offered by Collabria Care gave us several tools and strategies for identifying patients who have (or are at risk of developing) dementia, communicating with them, and connecting them to specialized resources and services.
As referral coordinators for OLE Health, it’s our job to connect our patients to the medical services they need, whether at OLE or elsewhere in the community. By understanding how to interact with those who have dementia we can assess and refer to the appropriate resource.
Through the Napa County Navigator training we learned:
When talking or working with someone with dementia, it’s important to meet them where they are. Those with dementia are often controlled by emotions, so it’s important to start any conversation from where they see things, not where you see it, and to always show and maintain compassion.
There are a number of non-brain conditions that can impact brain health—but treatment of them can prevent or slow the onset of dementia. For example, sleep apnea has been linked to a higher risk of dementia. The pauses in breathing restrict oxygen flow, which can cause brain damage—it literally forms holes in the brain. But treating the apnea can reverse that damage. Being aware of conditions like these, we can address a condition the patient might not realize can have a serious effect on their brain health.
Brain health is not just an issue for those over 65. About one in seven over age 70 will be diagnosed with some form of dementia, but it’s not just the elderly whose brain health is at risk: 40% of those over 50 report some form of memory problems, too.
There are services available here in our community to help those with memory-related conditions and their loved ones, and that need is only going to grow. In just the next four years, the percentage of Napa County residents 65 or older will jump to 28%, so in addition to making referrals to patients, we’re getting the word out on these with staff, physicians, and our own friends and family.
You Can Be a
Dementia Hero, Too!
Over the last year, Collabria Care’s DCNC has trained more than 200 community members, including first responders, healthcare providers, caregivers, and community members in how to understand dementia, reduce the stigma surrounding it and provide support and assistance for those with (or at risk for) dementia.
Anyone in the community, from individuals to small groups or organizations, is welcome to attend our free 60-minute weekly Wednesday workshops (hosted on Zoom). These cover how to recognize when someone might have dementia and how to communicate with them, strategies for approaching and caring for those with dementia, and local resources.
A 90-minute class (with CEUs) is available for first responders, healthcare professionals, social service providers, and those who work primarily with older adults.
For more information about Napa County Navigator trainings or community workshops, contact Melissa Gerard at 707.815.6258 or firstname.lastname@example.org.