We sometimes suffer memory loss and diminished mental acuity as we grow older, but this has nothing to do with old age and everything to do with Dementia. Dementia and Alzheimer's are conditions that change lives and lifestyles, and need special care arrangements to ensure the comfort and security of our loved ones.
What are Dementia and Alzheimer's?
Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of Dementia. It is characterized by problems with memory loss, thinking, and behavior that progressively worsens over time. Alzheimer’s affects the area of the brain that deals with learning, and difficulty learning new information is one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
What can I do for my loved one?
The first thing you can do for your loved one is to provide Home Care after their diagnosis. Home care involves understanding the specific characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease and how to adapt to your loved one’s change in behavior. Suggestions include:
- Establishing a routine. The more challenging it is for your loved one to keep up with daily tasks, the more frustrated and difficult they will get. Schedule tasks to make it easy for them to remember what to do.
- Keeping instructions simple. Use clear, concise, and simple instructions for your loved one to minimize frustrations and increase the likelihood they will remember.
- Offering options. Choices help your loved one feel in control. Offer simple, two-option decisions, but always give them the chance to voice their preference.
- Asking for help. Caring for someone with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is very difficult. Don’t be afraid to contact your LHIN (Local Health Integration Network) and request a licensed home care provider if you need more support.
What if I need more help?
If care at home is not a practical solution, you still have the option of enrolling your loved one in residential care.
A residential care facility can provide different levels of care to an Alzheimer’s or Dementia patient depending on their specific needs:
- Retirement housing. Most suited for individuals with an early-stage Alzheimer’s diagnosis who are still able to live independently, but are unable to maintain a house on their own. A retirement home has limited supervision but amenities such as social activities and rec rooms.
- Nursing Home. A Long-Term Care facility that provides 24-hour care. Nursing Home Care facilities have staff trained to deal with Dementia and Alzheimer's patients, and services to answer their needs, whether it’s nutrition, treatment, recreation, or supportive care.
- Supported care. Also called assisted living, supported care involves a mix of both independent living and nursing home services. Meals, supportive and health care, and housing are provided, but the patient is more independent and requires less supervision.
- Alzheimer’s special care units. Special Care Units (SCU) are designed specifically to meet the needs of individual Alzheimer’s or Dementia patients. They often operate within a larger care facility and have their own specialized staff and services.
- Continuing care retirement communities. These communities offer different levels of care (see above list) based on an individual patient’s needs, and can move between levels if their needs change. Each community partners with many facilities within a geographical area and will have different pricing structure and capabilities depending on their membership organizations.
Adapting to life with Alzheimer’s and Dementia involves a lot of change and emotional turmoil for both yourself and your loved one, so keep them involved at all points in the process.
Contact GTA Senior Care Solutions, and we will help you assess your options and complete an appropriate care plan.