Dementia can develop because of a mixture of influencing factors that are not yet fully understood, including one’s age, genetics, environmental conditions, lifestyle and habits, and other medical conditions and history. Some of these factors are controllable, while others are not. The main symptoms include difficulties remembering, communicating, and thinking – and therefore acting as one usually does.
Integracare provides private Dementia Care in your home in Toronto and Mississauga that is safe, comprehensive, and best-suited to the Client and their loved ones, 24 hours-a-day, wherever they call home. An in-home Caregiver can be a huge help to Clients experiencing symptoms of Dementia to take care of their daily activities. Our Clients’ health care plans are designed collaboratively with Clients, their families, and the community to foster joyful living, and as much independence as possible. If you or your loved needs assistance with Dementia or Alzheimer’s care at home, in hospital, or in a community residence, please contact us to learn how we can help. Integracare is the only home healthcare company in Toronto and Mississauga to work exclusively with the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto to educate all of its Caregivers in all four facets of Dementia Care.
If you suspect you or your loved one might be experiencing signs of Dementia, please make an appointment with your doctor. Note that memory problems alone may be a symptom of another issue, and two or more symptoms are needed for a diagnosis. Early warning signs of Dementia include:
- Difficulties remembering and recalling information –Our memories tend to become a little less reliable as we age, so a certain amount of loss in this area alone is not necessarily an indicator of Dementia.
- Impairments of language and communication –Cognition is affected, thoughts might be accessed more slowly, and it may become difficult to interpret and process certain information. This can affect the ability to listen and speak during a conversation or to communicate the same way one once did.
- Difficulties with focusing – Paying attention and sustaining focus for extended periods of time can become more difficult. It may be challenging to keep up with a conversation or focus on the story or plot of a TV programme or book.
- Troubles with reasoning – Judgement and following the logical path of information can become impaired. This may lead to irrational behaviour and decision-making.
- Changes in mood and personality – For many of the above reasons, one’s personality and how they behave may shift. The symptoms of Dementia can be quite frustrating and those experiencing these changes in cognition and functioning are likely to have their mood affected, with an increase of depression and anxiety also possible.
- Difficulties completing regular tasks and confusion – With a change in thinking, mood, loss of focus, illogical thought patterns, etc. it can become difficult to manage daily tasks and keep things straight.
- A weakened sense of direction –Spatial navigation abilities and relying on making mental maps of areas and locations in one’s environment, or imagined environment, is affected due to an altered area of the brain called the hippocampus.
- Frequent repetition with tasks and during conversations – Impaired memory function leads to repeating things one does not recall having done or having said already.
Alone, any of these experiences could be due to several circumstantial or other environmental factors, including fatigue, so tell your doctor or in-home Caregiver about anything that concerns you or your loved one. The experience of more than one symptom within a closer span of time is a stronger indicator.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are not currently curable, but there are steps to take and lifestyle changes that can be made to help delay the on-set, and, potentially, the severity of symptoms. As part of our home health care services, a Dementia Care educated Integracare Caregiver can assist with implementing and practicing many helpful habits and changes on a daily basis. With our focused and compassionate support, daily life is more easily lived and enjoyed by you or your loved one.
Keeping the mind active with a variety of activities is helpful. This means engaging different types of intelligence and areas of cognitive functioning. Some examples of activities could include word puzzles, math problems, reading non-fiction and fiction books and novels, learning a new creative hobby like arts and crafts, picking up an old past time, learning a new skill like performing with a musical instrument or making healthy meals at home with cooking classes.
Eating a healthy diet full of variety is one of the best things that anyone can do for their overall health and wellbeing. Enjoying a diet full of many coloured vegetables, an assortment of fruits, 100% whole grains, a lot of soluble and insoluble fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D is especially helpful. Avoiding certain foods like sugar, salt, preservatives, and additives also promotes proper functioning and clear thinking. Smoking and consuming alcohol can exacerbate symptoms of Dementia, along with many other harmful side effects if done in excess. A healthy heart is linked to lowered instances of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, so good heart health is a top priority.
Staying physically active not only helps the heart and other health conditions, but it aids the mind as well. Doctors recommend getting 30 minutes a day of light to moderate exercise for seniors. Ideal exercises include swimming, walking, yoga, Tai Chi, and any exercise that can be altered in terms of intensity to accommodate different abilities and energy levels. Exercise also helps reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety which can accompany Dementia. Remember to get medical advice before exercising and always stay properly hydrated when taking part in any physical activity, as dehydration could aggravate symptoms.
Eating well and staying physically active will also improve the quality of sleep. Getting enough quality and duration of sleep improves cognitive functioning. Creating a better sleep environment that is quiet, dark, comfortable, and free from regular disturbances is also essential for proper sleep routines. Naps, alcohol, and smoking should be avoided too close to bed time.
Being social and spending time with loved ones is important for those experiencing any one or a combination of the above symptoms. Family, friends, and the presence of an Integracare Caregiver helps ease feelings of isolation and loneliness, and there are trusted individuals around to assist when cognitive functioning is impaired. Being able to rely on the support of someone who cares is vital for Dementia and Alzheimer’s care. Memory, logic, or communication disruptions can be frustrating, and at times even frightening. Social and professional support can assist with accessing the information plus providing comfort and assurance that any slip ups and mistakes are okay.
It is important for loved ones to be familiar with how Dementia can appear and to become further educated on the symptoms that might occur – both to be able to report any suspected issues to a medical professional, and to be able to recognize and deal with the situation appropriately. Dementia can certainly be stressful for the family and friends of those experiencing symptoms, and having information is a big help, as is the ability to access compassionate home care services on a 24/7 basis in the home, hospital, or at a community residence.
A Dementia Care educated Integracare Caregiver can assist with making lifestyle and habitual changes to help with symptoms. In-home care is an important element in helping you and your loved one live with the symptoms of Dementia and increase quality of life.