The Boston Marathon explosions: Turn off the dayroom TV (McKnight’s LTC News)

Posted by Dr. El - April 17, 2013 - Dementia, Depression/Mental illness/Substance Abuse - No Comments

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Here’s my latest column at McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:

The Boston Marathon explosions: Turn off the dayroom TV

I was hoping not to have occasion to write another column about tragedy so soon, but the terrible events at the Boston Marathon have prompted another look at how we deal within our facilities with distressing news.

In my previous article, Helping Your LTC Community Cope in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy, I offer post-disaster recommendations that are applicable in this situation. In this column, I focus on the amount of information we provide to residents about distressing outside events.

Sandy Hook

An aide was the first person who informed me about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, calling me into the dining room to see the news broadcast. “Children,” she said, “just little children. This is awful.” The TV was filled with images of horror and the dining room was filled with residents, all of who were in wheelchairs or recliners and most of whom had dementia. They were more or less trapped in there, watching repetitive distressing reports of a vulnerable population being inexplicably attacked.

Many residents talked about the children in their psychotherapy sessions that week. Staff members stopped me in the halls to comment and to be heard and comforted by the psychologist. My daughter is six years old, the same age as most of the Sandy Hook victims. I was present at work as needed and at home I skimmed the headlines and tried not to read the details.

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