Dementia is a term that’s used to describe a range of symptoms, including memory loss, forgetfulness, confusion, and difficulty with thinking and problem-solving to the point where it inhibits a person’s ability to complete routine functions.
Across the globe, around 50 million people suffer from dementia, according to the World Health Organization. This condition mainly affects older people, but dementia is not considered a natural part of aging.
If your parent has recently been diagnosed with dementia or you suspect they may be suffering from dementia, learn more about this condition and how your parent can remain in the comfort of their own home, safely, with the appropriate dementia care at home.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is not, in itself, a disease. It’s actually a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders that affect the brain. While Alzheimer’s disease can cause dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is just one of the diseases that can cause dementia. Other diseases that can cause dementia include vascular dementia (due to strokes), Lewy body dementia, head trauma, frontotemporal dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. Many of these diseases have similar or overlapping symptoms.
Symptoms of dementia include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulties with thinking, problem-solving, word retrieval, and language
- Losing track of time
- Wandering or getting lost in familiar places
- Trouble recognizing familiar faces
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Difficulty walking or balance issues
Many people can experience these kinds of symptoms, but having dementia means these symptoms inhibit the person’s ability to go about their normal routine, such as running errands, holding a conversation, dressing, bathing, eating, and taking medication. Dementia is also progressive, which means these symptoms get gradually worse as more brain cells die over time.
If you have a parent or family member with dementia, they may need additional assistance at home to assist them with activities of daily living (ADL) and maintaining their independence – to the extent possible – safely.
Getting a Proper Diagnosis
It’s important that you make sure that your parent or family member has been properly diagnosed and actually has dementia. Just because they exhibit the symptoms listed above, it does not necessarily mean they have dementia.
Several treatable conditions can cause dementia-like symptoms, including vitamin deficiencies, an adverse reaction to a medication, thyroid disease, sleep disorders, mental illness such as a personality disorder or depression, dehydration, or even a urinary tract infection.
If you notice dementia-like symptoms in your parent or family member, talk with their doctor about having them assessed. Also ask what you can do, and how you can be prepared, should they receive a dementia diagnosis.
Once your parent or family member has been properly diagnosed, talk with their healthcare provider about developing an approach for managing their symptoms.
Dementia Treatment and Care
There is currently no cure for dementia. Several clinical trials are underway with regards to curing dementia or reversing its progressive nature.
Dementia care is about improving the lives of both, those struggling with dementia, and their family members. This can be a stressful time for you and everyone else involved, so it’s important that you have the support you need.
The treatment process typically involves:
- Early diagnosis to help manage the patient’s symptoms before they get progressively worse
- Promoting your parent’s physical, emotional, and cognitive health
- Identifying and treating any underlying conditions or diseases that may be causing your parent’s dementia
- Detecting and treating behavior changes, such as mood swings, aggressive behavior, and other psychological symptoms
- Ensuring the physical and emotional well-being of caregivers
Reducing the Risk of Dementia
Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not a natural part of aging. While aging increases the risk of dementia, it can occur in people under the age of 65. This is known as early-onset dementia and is relatively rare – accounting for less than 10% of dementia cases.
If you’re concerned about getting dementia there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Studies have shown you can reduce your risk by living a healthy lifestyle, including:
- Getting regular exercise
- Not smoking
- Not drinking too much alcohol
- Controlling your weight
- Eating a healthy diet
- Maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels
Other factors can contribute to dementia, including depression, low educational attainment, social isolation, and cognitive inactivity, such as doing repetitive tasks, watching television. In fact, dementia tends to be more common in low- and middle-income communities.
Dementia Care at Home
If your parent is suffering from dementia they can be cared for in a variety of settings.
Most people if given the choice, would prefer to remain in the comfort of their own home. If this is the case in your situation, your parent will likely, at some point, need in-home care.
Having qualified care at home is key to helping your parent with dementia stay as active and engaged as possible, and safe.
At Eldercare Home Health, we provide help for dementia clients at home, in retirement homes, in long term care facilities, and in the hospital.
Many of our PSW caregivers have completed certification with the Alzheimer’s Society.
Other home care providers may claim to be dementia care experts but at Eldercare Home Health a real, Ontario registered, Registered Nurse or Registered Practical Nurse will actively supervise and case manage your parent’s care on an ongoing basis, at no additional charge.
Eldercare Home Health has been providing expert dementia care to seniors in Toronto and the GTA for over 23 years. Dementia care at home may involve:
- Helping your parent with activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, dressing, and taking medication
- Providing cognitive stimulation and companionship, and helping to manage challenging behaviors.
- Assisting with activities and exercises that can have a positive effect on your parent’s mood and quality of life.
You may find it overwhelming to provide the care that your parent with dementia needs.
It’s important that you get the help you need, before you become exhausted, or your parent ends up in the hospital.
Palliative Care for Dementia
At some point, your parent may need what’s sometimes known as palliative care for dementia. Clients who require palliative care for dementia may have trouble walking, breathing, and communicating, and getting to the bathroom. They will need someone to help them throughout the day.
If your parent is also suffering from a serious illness or suffers a medical complication, they may also need palliative care for dementia. Hiring care that is supervised and case managed by Nurses can make a significant difference in your parent’s quality of life at this difficult time.
Having a parent or loved one with dementia can be stressful and confusing. At Eldercare Home Health we’re here to help ensure your parent gets the care they deserve, and you get the relief you need. Contact us today for more information about dementia care in Toronto.
Learn about our other senior care services.
Sources: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia https://www.dementiasociety.org/definitions?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIpOuzj96q5AIVg8DACh09FQziEAAYASAAEgL0e_D_BwE