The Fundamentals of Caring for Someone Living with Dementia

Are you caring for a loved one with Dementia? While it’s a rewarding position to be in, looking after someone living with the disease also has its challenges. Watching as someone dear to you and your family endures Dementia’s physical and emotional changes is heart-breaking. You may know a little about the disease already — that it affects memory, problem-solving skills, and other cognitive functions. It’s incredibly complex, and even contemporary scientists still grapple with the illness’s intricacies. Sadly, there’s currently no cure available, and it’s a disease that progresses with time. Dementia worsens as it develops and becomes much more challenging to live with and manage.

When diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, many people choose to receive personalized care right in the comfort of home. They prefer the privacy and familiarity of a place they know and love. Living in a long-term care home or assisted living facility doesn’t offer the same independence level as a private place of residence. Your loved one can live on their terms and receive one-on-care from highly trained health professionals at home. Our goal at Integracare is to provide Clients and their family members peace of mind. We believe in the power of compassion, which is why our Caregivers are so good at what they do. They bring extensive Dementia Care education and home healthcare experience, in addition to empathetic compassion and patience for people living with the disease. We believe that our home healthcare services provide Clients with the appropriate healthcare they require without leaving their homes because of our exclusive Dementia Care training program.

If your loved one is living with Dementia and they’re living at home with you, read on to discover what we believe to be at-home care fundamentals. Understanding the type of comprehensive home healthcare that Integracare provides, and knowing the following Dementia Care essentials will make you feel more confident about having your family member at home.

Understanding the Disease

To provide optimal care for someone with Dementia, you must understand the disease and its rapid progression. Gaining an overall understanding of Dementia will prepare you for the challenging road ahead. For example, did you know that there are about 400 different types of Dementia, and while each has similarities, they also require unique support methods and have various symptoms? We won’t get into each one, but we will outline the most common.

What Is Dementia?

Many people confuse “Dementia” as one single disease, but that’s not the case. Dementia is the blanket term to describe a broad set of symptoms and medical conditions. Abnormal brain changes cause disorders grouped under this umbrella term — including Alzheimer’s disease. Such brain changes will negatively affect a person’s cognitive skills, memory, and behavioural skills. Over time, these changes will impair a person’s ability to function independently, and they will need Dementia Care in Toronto and the surrounding area.

The most common symptoms of the disease include:

  • A decline in short-term memory.
  • Drastic mood changes, such as depression or apathy.
  • Struggling to find words in a conversation.
  • Difficulty performing or remembering routine tasks.
  • Lapses in judgement and confusion.

Dementia Care in Toronto

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of Dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all cases. Typically, memory loss is the first sign that someone is developing Alzheimer’s. However, initial symptoms can vary depending on the individual. Other signs include a decline in cognitive thinking, such as spatial and vision issues, losing train of thought, impaired reasoning, and general confusion.

As the disease progresses, people will have trouble performing everyday tasks, such as making coffee or driving a car. You may find that they repeat the same questions, get lost easily (even inside the house), or put items in strange places, such as placing keys in the fridge. Some people become violent, aggressive, worried, or withdrawn.

The Three Stages

There are three stages to the disease. The first stage is referred to as “the early stage.” If someone is diagnosed with Dementia early on, they can still live a reasonably independent lifestyle at this point. They may start to experience slight memory loss and require help with medication management and financial matters, such as paying bills.

During the middle stage, someone living with the illness may experience noticeable personality and behavioural changes. They may show signs of depression, aggression, or apathy. Sometimes, mobility and coordination suffer, and Clients can appear agitated or frustrated. People feel confused and lose track of time and place, and it can be disorienting for the Client and those around them.

The third and last stage requires intensive professional Dementia Care. Clients may lose the ability to eat, speak, or move. Having access to Live-In care is vital at this particular time.

Different Types of Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of Dementia, and the other four common varieties of the disease include:

  • Vascular Dementia — A decline in cognitive skills caused by conditions that block or reduce blood flow to parts of the brain.
  • Lewy Body Dementia — A type of progressive Dementia that can lead to a decline in independent function and hallucinations.
  • Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) — FTD combines a group of disorders caused by nerve cell loss in the brain’s frontal lobes. Such conditions can cause drastic personality and behavioural changes and difficulty communicating.
  • Mixed Dementia — People with Mixed Dementia experience simultaneous brain changes and symptoms from one or more types of the disease.

Before you start caring for your loved one, speak with your family doctor to know which type of Dementia your family member has so you can both prepare for their progressive psychological and behavioural changes. The more information you know, the more you can relay to your loved one’s Caregiver to get the best possible at-home care from us at Integracare.

How to Proceed with At-Home Care

Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s disease and any other type of Dementia on your own can be overwhelming and debilitating. We understand that you want to be there for your loved one as much as possible. We work with our Clients and their family members to provide them with the meticulous care and support they need during all three stages of the disease.

Your loved one’s custom Integracare Caregiving and Nursing team will be their strongest advocate — communicating between your loved one, their doctors, you, and any other health practitioner involved in their personalized healthcare plan. We are there to answer your common home health care questions and ensure your loved one’s needs are always met with professionalism and compassion from the entire healthcare team.

We would love to dig a little deeper into why our Caregiving and Nursing team provides the most comprehensive, compassionate, and professional at-home healthcare for people living with Dementia.

Specialized In-Depth Dementia Education

Did you know that all Integracare Caregivers receive regular, on-going, multi-faceted Dementia Care education from The Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto? We wanted to take our Caregiving a step further, so we partnered with one of the most knowledgeable and supportive Dementia organizations in the country. One hundred percent of our Caregiving staff — Caregivers, Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs), and Personal Support Workers (PSWs) — receive exclusive education to provide exceptional care and support to our Dementia Clients at every stage of the disease.

Our Caregivers now have a wide range of tools and resources to pull from to increase the quality of your loved one’s life. From learning how to deescalate responsive behaviour to patiently waiting out moments of confusion, Integracare at-home Caregivers will know precisely what to do in any Dementia Care situation, and they’ll do it with educated grace and respect.

At-Home seniore care

At-Home Nursing

Further to our exclusive Dementia Care, your loved one might also require the professional services from our RPNs. Integracare RPNs are regulated healthcare professionals with the necessary skills, knowledge, experiences, and resources to provide home nursing care services. Your friend or family member’s at-home RPN will give any required medication administration and injections, case management, and, if needed escorting to medical appointments. They’ll also assist with any of your loved one’s medical equipment and other devices.

Our RPNs will do whatever it takes to ensure Clients have their needs met and that they receive the best professional support they need to age comfortably at home. They’ll also work closely with Caregivers to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding your loved one’s physical and emotional well-being. As with our Dementia training, our RPNs receive continuous education based on medical and other relevant skills. We are firm believers in providing the highest quality education and training to provide the best assistance in any home healthcare situation.

Increasing Quality of Life with At-Home Services

One of the most devastating symptoms that people living with Dementia experience is the feeling of loneliness. And what’s worse is that people with the disease can’t effectively express this sentiment due to their inability to communicate feelings. As the disease progresses, it becomes significantly more challenging for people living with the disease to talk about their feelings because of the changes occurring in their brains.

Massage Therapy

Something that encourages hope and stimulates feelings of joy is the healing power of touch. For thousands of years, Massage Therapy has been utilized to help people with physical body pains and emotional turmoil. Caring for people living with Dementia depends on relationships and evidence-based healthcare. Massage is an effective, powerful way to address and ease Dementia’s behavioural symptoms and alleviate dark feelings of loneliness and sadness.

We offer compassionate massage therapy services from professional Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs). They receive specialized Dementia Care education to provide the most gentle and calming massages for Seniors living with the disease. They’ll come right to your door with their equipment, so all you’ll have to do is create a private space within the house for your RMT to get to work. Seniors must get this kind of stimulation in their bodies since many live sedentary lifestyles. For example, your loved one may be in a wheelchair or perhaps the Dementia has made walking and moving around tricky over the last little while. Massage Therapy encourages healthy blood flow in the body and helps ease any soreness in muscles and joints.

Regular Massage Therapy will also remind your loved one that they’re not alone. Something as simple as a gentle shoulder rub will help to calm down anxieties and fears. A massage is a powerful tool that we believe is a Dementia Care must.

Live-In Care

As you care for your family member or friend, the daily challenges will become more frequent. It will likely become increasingly difficult for you to manage your and your loved one’s lives, even with the assistance of a supportive at-home Caregiver. During the last stage of Dementia, people lose the ability to eat, talk, and walk. To provide the best love and care for your loved one, you must also take care of yourself. Otherwise, you’ll burn out and won’t have the stamina to be there for anyone in your life.

As part of our home healthcare services, Integracare provides Live-In Care. A Live-In Caregiver will give you peace of mind knowing that your family member is never alone and always in the company of a healthcare professional. They’ll also safety-proof the house in order to limit and attempt to prevent accidental falls or injuries. It will also allow you to take some time to focus on yourself.

While you’re dedicated to your loved one right now, you still need to show yourself some love. Perhaps a Live-In Caregiver will enable you to take a day off to catch up on some sleep. You deserve something nice during this incredibly challenging time — never forget your own needs.

Consider how we can help you through this challenging chapter of your life. We try to put ourselves in our Clients’ family members’ shoes, which is why we’re always thinking of ways to improve our services. Many of us at Integracare have been in similar shoes, watching family members experience the symptoms of Dementia. We know how hard it is, and we want to make your home healthcare experience as joyful as possible.

There’s no easy solution to what the fundamentals of Dementia Care are, but we believe that you’ll find the process much more demanding without professional help. Give Integracare a call today to see how we can support you and your loved one at home.