At Providence, we assist many families dealing with dementia — and we know that it isn’t an easy road. While the older adult living with dementia has a difficult journey, the family also often feels overwhelmed. Therefore, we strive to be as helpful, compassionate, and supportive as possible. We create and implement the type of active memory care programs our communities that will bring peace of mind to the family and comfort to the resident. But often, people don’t know where to begin in their journey with dementia. Here are just a few questions that come up often during the journey.
What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of dementia, but not all dementia is Alzheimer’s. Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of symptoms resulting from neuro degenerative diseases — diseases that attack the brain. Dementia is characterized by losses: loss of memory, language, decision-making and problem-solving skills, and visual-spatial abilities (such as the ability to judge the distance and speed of oncoming traffic).
Could my loved one have dementia?
Different types of dementia present with different symptoms. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most commonly diagnosed dementia, and the subject of the most research on the topic. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, common early signs of Alzheimer’s include: memory loss that disrupts daily life, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, poor judgment, withdrawal from social activities, and changes in mood or personality. A medical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s — or another disease that causes dementia — requires losses in two or more cognitive domains. A doctor can help determine if that applies to your loved one.
If my loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, how do we plan for the future?
Families will need to look at safe housing, and consider where is the best place for their loved one to live. They will also need to decide how long it’s safe to drive. Other things to consider include financial and healthcare implications — specifically, appointing a power of attorney while your loved one is still able to make the decision.
These are emotionally charged decisions, and often the information is best received from a physician, who can be an objective source. Family members may ask a doctor to step in, allowing the family to maintain its position of emotional support – otherwise, decision making can put a strain on relationships.
How does Providence assist a client with dementia symptoms?
There are many ways, but some of the most important include adjusting communication, reducing fall risks, and promoting a sense of control.
Our staff is trained to understand how dementia symptoms affect communication and alter the ways that we communicate accordingly. We know that what is factually correct does not matter; it’s the person’s feelings that matter most – what puts them at ease?
And since people with dementia are at a greater risk for falls, we train staff to anticipate what their needs would be whenever possible. There is a still a great deal of unpredictability to it, so we also do a lot of monitoring. We know we can’t eliminate falls, but we aim to reduce risks when possible.
We also simplify things, but we don’t take away choice. Our job is to help our residents maintain their own abilities and support them in areas where they are struggling.