Dementia is not a specific disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but is a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interfere with doing everyday activities.
There are many types of dementia, each with individual characteristics.
It is different from grandma forgetting where she parked, as the diseases cause changes in the brain that are different from normal aging. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s, which is the fifth leading cause of death for adults aged 65 years and older, and the sixth leading cause of death for all adults, according to the most CDC recent data. Some 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Many experts now believe that the percentage of people who will develop dementia is dipping slightly. However, because the population is aging, there will still be a steep rise in the number of cases, up to 14 million by the year 2050. This means many more millions of family members will be affected as they provide care for these loved ones.
Home care can help mitigate some of the symptoms that are common among those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia:
- Forgetfulness: The loss of short-term memory is one of the first indicators that something is amiss. Signs could be something as simple as forgetting where the clicker is or where they put their house keys down to something as dangerous as leaving the stove or oven on. Eventually, the memory loss will get to the point where they will lose the ability to recognize loved ones.
- How Home Care Can Help: Having a professional caregiver in the home will ensure that our loved one’s safety is not forgotten. They will help them find the clicker and make sure the stove is off. Having a consistent caregiver also helps provide a routine, which is essential for patients with memory impairments.
- Wandering: Patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s frequently get confused and begin to wander around, which can be extremely dangerous as they can leave the safety of home. This often happens when they forget where they are or are looking for someone or something.
- How Home Care Can Help: A caregiver will be able to prevent a loved one from wandering by providing companionship and supervision in the home. They can distract and refocus the patient to decrease the need to wander.
- Incontinence: Those in the later stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia may experience incontinence because they lose control of bodily functions as the brain is affected by the disease.
- How Home Care Can Help: Caregivers help patients with their activities of daily living and are trained to help with toileting and incontinence issues with dignity and respect.
- Agitation: Sometimes those with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be agitated or anxious because their brain is no longer working correctly and cannot process stimuli or information. In addition to physical issues, there could be medication complications that compound problems. Agitation can be aggravated by location changes, caregiver changes or any perceived threats.
- How Home Care Can Help: Consistent caregivers help eliminate some of the frustration by providing routine and keeping the patient in their familiar surroundings as long as possible. They also help eliminate agitation by simply being a presence in the home and knowing the patient’s triggers and what soothes them.
Simple activities and brain games help sharpen certain thinking skills that tend to wane with age, such as processing speed, planning skills, reaction time, decision making, and short-term memory. Download the AHHC Holiday Activity Book for some simple puzzles and activities for the holiday season.
Dementia & Caregiver Educational Webinars
Understanding Dementia & Improving Caregiver Interaction
Special presentation from Assisting Hands Richmond
The GEMS® approach to coping with dementia focuses on ability instead of loss and is an extremely helpful tool to assist with changing abilities that impact relationships and expectations.
It is not only a way to describe the various stages of dementia but also as a means to improve interaction and appreciation of individuals living with dementia. GEMS® is based on the Allen Cognitive Scale, recognizes the shifts in our skills and abilities in any given moment. Learn more about what it means to be living in the world with Sapphire, Diamond, Emerald, Amber, Ruby or Pearl cognitive and physical ability.
This workshop is led by Cathy Hamlin, Assisting Hands Richmond’s Executive Administrator, who is a PAC Certified Independent Coach. The GEMS® was developed by Teepa Snow as part of her Positive Approach to Care® (PAC).