Dementia symptoms entail a core memory impairment and peripheral behavioral problems. It is said that the peripheral behavioral problems could be significantly alleviated by certain responses from people around the patient. To this end, caregivers need to appropriately understand and respond to the patient's feelings and appeals without being disturbed by odd and difficult behavior. However, many professionals and family members involved in dementia care are uncertain about what would comprise proper responses.
Under the theme of “Ideal Dementia Care,” a seminar was held by Japanese and American elder care experts on August 27-31 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Initiated in 1991 by Ruth Campbell, Director of the Social Work Department at the University of Michigan, the Michigan-Japan Network to Promote an Interdisciplinary Team Approach for Support of the Elderly (commonly known as Michigan Net) has promoted exchanges among Japanese and US elder care experts and conducted other activities for nearly two decades to help improve elder care.
As part of these activities, a seminar focusing on dementia care was held with about 40 experts participating (physicians, nurses, social workers, clinical psychotherapist, care managers, etc.) from the Japan and US. The participants were divided into five small groups to discuss dementia care and how to cooperate with family caregivers. They then presented a summary of their discussion.
Being a provider of telephone hotline services, ILC-Japan participated in this seminar. We have seven years of experience listening to the struggles and challenges of family caregivers.
Despite cultural and institutional differences, the Japan and US shares many challenges associated with dementia care. At the seminar, participants shared many proposals on the need for psychological, physical and economical support for caregivers, building communities, and improvement of the medical care system. They agreed in general that communities should, as a team, support people with dementia.
The Network plans to hold a seminar in Japan next year, and aims to continue this grass-root interaction and exchange among experts.
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