Alzheimers and Dementia Care
Are you concerned about an older adult in your life experiencing memory loss? Etheridge Care Management can help.
How to Get Started:
Give Laurel a call for a free introductory conversation to discuss your particular situation and how she might best help.
What makes Laurel’s approach unique:
Laurel is known for her intuitive approach to dementia care based on years of hands-on experience. Laurel “speaks” dementia and can often connect with even the most resistant elder in a non-threatening way. She can conduct an “informal” evaluation without the elder even being aware.
Laurel approaches the individual living with dementia as a person, not as a disease. That’s because she knows they are human beings who still have emotions, personality, abilities, history, spirit and a sense of humor.
People often ask Laurel what she would recommend in a certain scenario. Her answer is invariably, “I’d have to meet them first”. That meeting, that connection, is the foundation that informs Laurel’s work. She intuitively connects with, and is able to understand, the presenting issues in a way that helps her be most effective.
Laurel has a background of working hands-on in numerous settings with older adults living with dementia and their families. She started her career as a Recreation Therapist working directly with older adults. Since then she has had increasingly responsible roles in the eldercare arena. (See about Laurel). Through the course of her work she has gotten to know people living with dementia over time in order to develop rapport, trust, and approaches that really work. She has worked with numerous doctors and specialists and has become knowledgeable about medications, behavioral interventions, and creative problem-solving.
Most notably she was the leader of a team of professionals at the Institute on Aging in San Francisco. There she was responsible for the care of over 100 older adults with dementia who came in to the day center and clinic. Under Laurel’s leadership the team, including UCSF residents doing their geriatric rotation, met every morning to plan approaches and interventions for the participants in the On Lok by IOA/UCSF program. It was her job to ensure the implementation of these plans. She had the unique experience of learning first-hand the interdisciplinary teamwork of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, social workers, and more. She brings all of this knowledge and experience with her when working with clients and their families.”
“I believe that people living with dementia deserve to be treated as the full human beings that they are, not as their diagnosis. They still have unique personalities, can experience a full range of emotions and with support can live fully, even at times joyfully, in the moment. I continue to be surprised and inspired by the clients I work with. They are my best teachers.
There is no disputing the fact that dementia can be very difficult to face and to deal with. But that is not the whole story. The focus on research and finding a cure has eclipsed the need for funding to improve the lives of the millions living with dementia and their family caregivers.
I am a strong advocate for better public education, reduced stigma, and more inclusion in mainstream society for those living with cognitive loss.”
— Laurel Etheridge
The Informal Evaluation:
Laurel conducts an “informal” evaluation when meeting a client for the first time. Through a social visit she makes observations and asks questions in a conversational manner. This gives her a sense of the cognitive and functional abilities of the elder which, when combined with information provided by the family, form the basis of the initial evaluation. From there Laurel can make recommendations to address the presenting issues.
Cognitive Screening and Diagnosis
Laurel utilizes a standard screening tool to evaluate the client’s cognitive status. The results can be shared with the client’s doctor which, along with your anecdotal stories, may be enough for a diagnosis. If further testing is indicated Laurel can refer you to a local psychologist specializing in neuro-psychological evaluations. This type of evaluation is usuallly covered by Medicare.
A more thorough medical work-up can be facilitated through a memory clinic such as the UCSF Memory and Aging Center or the CPMC Ray Dolby Brain Health Center in San Francisco.
Family caregiver coaching and support:
As a family caregiver you only know too well how stressful the day to day challenges of dementia care can be. Sometimes what you need most is support, someone who understands what you are going through and can give you solid coaching around caregiving issues and behavioral challenges. Laurel can provide that coaching either in person or over the phone. Coaching can make the difference between feeling alone in your caregiving role and feeling understood and supported. Coaching sessions can be scheduled on a weekly, monthly, or as-needed basis.
Managing care in the home:
Laurel can facilitate and manage comprehensive care in the home including finding and overseeing in-home care; managing health care, medications, and transportation; and ensuring adequate activity, exercise, nutrition and socialization. She can monitor for changing needs and events to ensure ongoing safety and well-being.
When a move from home to a care setting becomes the next right step this transition can be very hard on everyone; having professional support and expert guidance can go a long way towards reduced stress and a successful outcome.
One of Laurel’s signature services is the strategic move from home to a care setting. First, the “informal” evaluation will help Laurel recommend the best care settings for your loved one. Then, with your input, she will develop an individualized strategic plan outlining every step of the transition. Laurel has an excellent track record of dozens of successful moves based on her strategic, hands-on approach.
Issues with behavior can be among the most daunting aspects involved caring for someone living with dementia. Laurel can help to determine the underlying cause of the behavior and the best approach to address it. Often a new approach makes all the difference.
Sometimes changes in the brain can cause psychoses which can put the elder in great distress and fear. In these cases an expert approach to the right medications may be in order. Laurel works with only the best doctors, geriatricians, and psychiatrists when medication is indicated.
Activities and Socialization:
Studies have shown that activity and social stimulation are among the best approaches to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. A former Recreation Therapist, Laurel is knowledgeable about meaningful activities for people living with dementia. She partners with local organizations such as Engage as You Age www.engageasyouage.com, the Hummingbird Project www.sageeldercare.com, and Senior Accesswww.senioraccess.org to bring meaningful interactions and joy into the lives of her clients.