To say that receiving the news that someone you love has Dementia is challenging would be an enormous understatement. Dementia is a disease affecting memory loss and cognitive behaviour. Many different types of Dementia exist, including Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular Dementia. While each type has unique symptoms, they all link to abnormal brain changes, which impair independent function and daily life. Such brain changes can affect an individual’s emotions, behaviour, and personal relationships. As time progresses, the disease will worsen. Your loved one will require total care and support from healthcare professionals.
Integracare is a Dementia Care expert, and we offer home care services in Toronto and the surrounding area for Seniors. Over the 30-years that we’ve been delivering essential home healthcare for Seniors, we’ve developed a compassionate understanding for our Clients living with Dementia. As our professional Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and Caregivers increasingly started to work with Clients living with Dementia, we realized the importance of providing high-quality care to those with the disease. We came to realize that while Dementia is an aggressive illness that affects Clients and everyone around them, with the proper care, Clients and their loved ones can continue to live a joyful and peaceful life. Our mission became to increase our Clients’ quality of life by offering the best Dementia Care in Toronto and Mississauga and the rest of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
To truly provide the best Dementia Care out there, we’ve partnered with the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. Through this exclusive partnership, all of our PSWs and Caregivers receive ongoing training. They’re fully equipped with the resources and knowledge to support our Clients at every stage of the disease. For example, our Caregivers can identify the early signs of dementia right away due to their intensive training and education. The Toronto Alzheimer’s Society has deemed us a “Dementia Friendly” provider, and we’re proud to say that we’re the only home healthcare agency with this distinction.
We also believe that it’s critical for loved ones and their families to create a healthcare plan that works for them. The best bet is to develop a plan as soon as the Dementia has been diagnosed. You want to communicate clearly with your loved one. There’s a chance that their cognitive abilities will dwindle with time, so establishing a plan now is best for everyone’s interest. We’ve used our expertise to create a list of things to keep in mind when facilitating an effective and compassionate Dementia Care plan. Read on to discover how to approach this new chapter of your and your loved one’s lives.
Take Baby Steps
The first thing you’ll have to do is organize your thoughts and actions. Are you the closest person to your loved one? Do they have a large family and friend group that should also be involved in the planning process? You might want to host group meetings with the affected individual and those closest to them and discuss healthcare plan options.
When it comes to Dementia, education is everything. You’ll want to know all there is to know about your loved one’s disease. It will help you choose the right course of action when your loved one begins to experiences symptoms. For example, your loved one may have one of the lesser known types of Dementia — such as Huntington’s Disease — so you’ll want to know about its progressive stages and how to prepare for upcoming behavioural changes. You don’t want to be surprised by your friend or family member’s personality changes.
It’s not always a straightforward or pleasant process but learning about the disease could save you pain and anguish down the line. Knowing what to expect from your loved one might ease any potential shock and prepare you for emergencies. Be proactive about it: talk to your relative or friend’s doctor, join support groups, and research carefully online. There’s a lot of information, and unfortunately misinformation on the internet, so stick with reliable healthcare resources.
Watching someone that you care deeply for experience Dementia symptoms is tough. Dementia typically comes in seven stages, and as the stages progress, the disease’s symptoms will worsen. For your emotional and mental wellbeing, you must find support outside of the home. Consider therapy or counselling. Or ask your doctor or the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto about Dementia support groups you could join. Sometimes the mere act of listening to someone else’s similar story can make a world of difference. You’ll understand that you’re not alone in this. You’ll also want to talk to friends and family; let them know that you might not be as present as you’d like and that you may need a shoulder to lean on sometimes.
Your next step is to decide on a healthcare plan that’s best for your family member or friend. A home healthcare plan is a private, customized way for your loved one to enjoy life in the comfort of home. Dementia can be disorienting, so maintaining as much normalcy in your loved one’s life is crucial. Receiving care at home and ageing in place allows precisely this — you won’t have to uproot your loved one out of their place of residence and into a long-term care facility or hospital. While at home, Clients retain a sense of themselves as they receive the very best in customized care and support.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still lingering, avoiding public spaces is still very much a concern. Your loved one will be much safer at home than in a public setting. Further to high-quality home healthcare, we also offer PCR COVID testing services that you and your entire family can take. If you’re ever concerned about yourself, your friend or family member, or anyone else that might be in contact with them, getting a test is the best and quickest way to know if you have the virus or not. Keep everyone in your circle safe with our mobile testing services.
Integracare’s Personalized Dementia Care Plans
Integracare is committed to providing Clients with personalized Dementia Care plans to suit their specific healthcare and emotional needs. We will match one of our highly qualified, trained, and licensed Caregivers with your family member or friend based on your loved one’s requirements. For example, perhaps your relative has mobility issues and needs a Caregiver specializing in caring for individuals with wheelchairs and other supportive devices.
Not all Clients living with Dementia require the same type of support, which is why we offer a diverse range of home care services. Let’s look at some of those and how such services could benefit your loved one.
No matter the type or stage of Dementia, you’ll feel safe knowing that your friend or family member receives compassionate personal support from our Caregivers. As the disease progresses, Dementia Clients will need assistance with daily activities. Individuals with the illness will slowly find regular household tasks challenging because of their weakening cognitive functions. Our Caregivers will assist with:
- Preparing Meals
- Transportation (For example, driving to appointments)
- And More
Furthermore, your loved one will receive compassionate and genuine companionship from our Caregivers. They know how to deescalate stressful situations caused by Dementia symptoms and will be there when you’re not able to be around. Caregivers will offer conversation and a hand to hold when your loved one is feeling lonely or scared. You’ll never have to worry about your friend or relative being alone again.
We offer 24-hour, Live-In Care to Clients who need it. As the Dementia stages progress, Clients often need help with daily necessities, such as eating and walking. Additionally, different types of the disease act faster and are more severe than others. Does your loved one have Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)? CJD is a rare form of Dementia, and it advances rapidly.
Some people can experience personality changes, impaired memory, loss of eyesight, and painful muscle spasms called myoclonus. Clients with CJD benefit tremendously from our Live-In Care system because they’ll always have someone present in case of a critical or urgent situation.
We’re always excited to offer our Massage Therapy Services to Clients. Our Registered Massage Therapists (RMT) are all professionally trained and educated and have extensive experience working with Seniors. They apply gentle massage strokes to Clients, avoiding too much pressure or force in their practice. Many people with Dementia experience muscle and joint pain because the stress and anxiety of having the disease cause muscles to tense up. Clients can experience severe pain throughout their bodies.
Communication (whether it’s verbal or body) becomes more of a challenge as the Dementia advances, and people may not have the ability to describe their muscle and joint pain to others. Sometimes, people with Dementia feel trapped in their bodies. Your loved one could have pain and not have the capability to tell you. While this could apply to any Dementia type, those with Lewy Body Dementia and CJD often experience muscle rigidity and spasms. Other symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia include:
- Balance Problems and Falling
- Loss of Coordination
- A Stooped Posture
A gentle, therapeutic Massage would help to ease such tension caused by Dementia.
An Integracare RMT will come directly to your loved one’s home as many times as needed to provide them with some hands-on stress relief. What’s so unique about Massage Therapy is that it alleviates both physical and emotional duress. While it will help reduce the muscle tension your friend or relative has, regular Massage Therapy can also:
- Improve Sleep
- Improve Circulation
- Reduce Stress Hormones
- Encourage Relaxation
- Enhance Joint Mobility and Flexibility
After receiving a Dementia diagnosis, your friend or family member might feel confused, sad, and even angry. Having the disease is complicated enough for friends and family members, so can you imagine how your loved one feels?
Receiving regular Massage Therapy encourages relaxation and enhanced emotional wellbeing because it naturally releases stress-relieving endorphins and lowers the heart rate. If you think your family member is in pain, consider incorporating Massage into their home healthcare routine.
As the disease advances, your relative or friend will need one-on-one care seven days a week. Some people lose the ability to speak, walk, or eat. At this point, the objective becomes more about maintaining comfort than finding a cure.
Similar to our Live-In Care, our Palliative Care services are available for Clients 24-7. Palliative Care is a specialized type of care for individuals with a life-limiting illness, including Dementia. Many of our Dementia Care Clients receive Palliative services when they enter the mid to later stages of the disease. It’s a type of care focused on relieving the physical and emotional symptoms of an illness, and the intention is to improve the quality of life for Clients and their friends and family members.
Along with other treatments prescribed by doctors, Palliative Care provides an interdisciplinary approach to treating physical and emotional pain. Its objective is to pay close attention to:
- Physical Pain
- Emotional Suffering
- Social and Culture Needs
Integracare Caregivers and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) will work closely with your loved one’s outside doctors to deliver the very best healthcare and pain management treatment at home. They’ll monitor any prescription pain medication intake and always ensure that your family member or friend receives outstanding one-on-one attention. They’ll also operate any medical equipment and show you and other family members how to maintain it so your loved one will always be comfortable.
Palliative Caregivers and RPNs will also observe your friend’s mental and emotional wellbeing. While they work directly with Clients living with Dementia, Caregivers can also set up counselling with specialized therapists.
Dementia isn’t something you can tackle alone. Even if you have a large family or friend group, you’re going to need professional help. You and your family can get the care you need today by giving Integracare a call. You don’t have to do this alone. We’re here for you whenever you need us.