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What is Dementia?

  • Dementia is a progressive and generally irreversible condition of memory impairment. It is often associated with losing your mind and people find that very scary.
  • There is a change in personality, lack of motivation and or loss of emotional control E.g.: disorientation of time, asking repeated questions, loosing things, forgetting, lying, and evading questions.
  • Dementia works in reverse as it often affects the most recent memory and works its way back.
  • The best way to describe Dementia is: imagine a pile of paper (metaphorically being your memory) sitting by an open window. As the wind blows, the top sheets of paper fly away as would the memory. As the disease progresses the pile of paper continues to shrink.

How is Dementia and Alzheimer’s different or the same?

  • Dementia is the onset of symptoms and Alzheimer’s is the diagnosis
  • There are over 100 types of dementia and they are often associated with old age and we don’t want to mix natural aging with Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s (the most common) unravelles the brain in reverse order as the brain in a child develops and effects approx 60%
  • Vascular Dementia is caused by multiple mini stokes and effects 20-30%
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies is when trouble sets with initiating movement and effects approx 15-20%
  • Early Onset Dementia effects under the age of 50 and is brought by diseases such Huntington disease or Korsakoff’s syndrome or other neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s.

Different stages

  • Early Stage need for supervision in their daily life and are aware of their situation
  • Middle Stage need for daily care and the dementia is more profound
  • Advanced Stage highly dependent and are often in nursing type care, whether formal or informal
  • 1/3 of people with dementia often suffer with Responsive behavior and that can look like anger or aggression but usually it’s because what is happing at that moment is their perception and no one understands that. Dementia is the second most feared disease next to cancer. There is a stigma of shame associated; nobody wants to feel like they are losing their mind.
  • Conflicts can be reduced or prevented if you understand an individual’s behavior because a person with dementia often is unable to communicate simple needs

Message & tips about care giving for someone with Dementia

  • If you suspect your loved one has dementia, have them properly diagnosed by a Geriatrician and ask for help.
  • Many people take it upon themselves to be the care giver, I stress again get some help because you can burn out
  • Care givers can be formal or informal it’s the person placed in charge for your care, it can be your adult child, spouse, relative or people hired from a private company
  • Right now there isn’t any medication to prevent or cure Dementia. The medication being used is to treat behavioral and cognitive symptoms

I would like to share one of my many experiences with Dementia:

Several years ago I did some volunteering at a Retirement home.

I went in to the home every Saturday, there sat a group of 4 ladies in the front lounge.

They always looked like they were waiting for someone

I would always go up to them to say good morning and they always greeted me with smiles.

Then they would ask me what my name is and we would chat for a few minutes.

They would invite me to stay for tea and we would have a wonderful visit full of happy conversations.

I went to this home for many years and every time I went to visit they did not recognise or remember me but they were always happy to see me.

What these ladies will never know was my purpose for being there.

These ladies seldom had family or friend visits.

Speak with our home care specialists at Retire-At-Home Services Etobicoke and learn more about our dementia care services.

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