Providing care to a loved one with dementia, even at early stages, is challenging in ways that most people are just simply not adapted to deal with. One major issue that caregivers for those with dementia struggle with is setting achievable and realistic goals for each day that are not contingent upon a “good” or “bad” day. At Valiente Senior Living, the experts in our memory care facility employ SMART goals for each of our guests specific to each day. SMART goals are more than just excitedly expressed intelligent goals; the SMART acronym is instead a formula used for setting realistic and achievable goals for anything in life. We believe that these goals align well with dementia care and treatment plans in the following ways:
S – Specific
When setting a goal for the loved one in your life, it is important that you make goals specific, even if they are mundane. One of your goals can be to pick out and put on clothes in the morning, rather than just to get ready for breakfast. Break down goals to simple and clear pieces. This also allows you to track progress on specific portions of a larger goal day-by-day and truly track your loved one’s’ abilities over time. Specific goals also allow you to manage your daily activities as smaller tasks, rather than viewing each day or week as its own vague goal.
M – Measurable
As mentioned above, individuals with dementia are prone to having “good” and “bad” days, hours, or even minutes. Tracking when and with what your loved one struggles or succeeds at over time can be vital information for tracking the progression of the treatment or disease over time. Your goals should reflect this ability and always be measurable. Many caregivers will use a “red, yellow, green” scoring system to quickly track the difficulty posed by any task or goal. This makes it much easier to detect patterns, such as struggles or successes at a certain time of day or surrounding a certain stimulus.
A – Attainable
This may seem obvious, but it is important that your goals be customized based on their attainability. If you notice that your loved one consistently struggles with a goal you have in place, consider breaking that goal down into easier or smaller portions. Achievable goals give you and your loved one something to celebrate when they are achieved, but these goals should also reflect your confidence in their ability to handle tasks that may not seem easy. Remember, these are attainable, not automatically attainable goals.
R – Rewarding
Often the “R” portion of SMART goals represents realistic, but for dementia patients, any attainable goal can be both realistic and unrealistic. We choose to use “R” for rewarding instead, as the payoff for a rewarding goal is very high in our memory care patients. Celebration is often so vital to a dementia treatment because it helps to fight off the inherent shame that dementia victims feel when they realize their memory has failed them. By making even mundane goals feel rewarding in some way, you keep everyone’s spirits high. Of course, you don’t want to confuse or make them feel patronized by over-celebrating any little thing.
T – Timely
Goals should have a realistic time-frame associated with them and have a completion time, as well. Many mundane goals will automatically have a timeliness to them, but goals longer than a day should have an assigned time to them. If a long-term goal is approaching the assigned completion time without a likelihood of completion, then it is advisable to set a more attainable goal in a new timeframe. Remember, many goals and tasks will not be achieved in the assigned timeframe, which is completely okay and expected; it is still important to set a timeframe and track a goal’s progress as it approaches its deadline.
Trusted Magnolia Memory Care
Valiente Senior Living is committed to continued, sustainable growth in the field of dementia treatment and care in Magnolia. If you are looking for help in caring for your loved one, you can trust the caring professionals at our memory care facility to care for and challenge your loved one each and every day. We understand how difficult dementia care can be and would love the opportunity to work with you and your family today.