More than 40% of Canadians over the age of 65 suffer from memory loss. When there is no underlying medical condition causing this loss of memory, it is known as “age-associated memory impairment,” which is considered a part of the normal aging process.

Brain diseases such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease do not fit under this category — they are not a normal part of the aging process.

Age-associated memory impairment includes:

  • Not being able to remember the names of acquaintances
  • Not being able to remember details of conversations that took place a year ago
  • Occasionally finding it difficult to find words
  • Forgetting things and events occasionally

These are normal signs of aging and memory loss. The symptoms of Dementia — which are not a normal part of aging include:

  • Not recognizing or remembering the names of family members and close friends
  • Not remembering conversations that took place recently
  • Frequently pausing and substituting words when speaking
  • Forgetting things and events more frequently

If someone close to you experiences any of these symptoms, have their Doctor give them an assessment as soon as possible. Although Dementia is not curable, there are treatments and services available that can increase the quality of life and well-being for someone living with Dementia.

The first step in dealing with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in your family is learning what care options are available. Integracare offers the highest quality in-home Dementia Care, and our Caregivers receive thorough education and training from the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto. Integracare prides itself on having the most Dementia care educated Caregivers in the industry.

Our Caregivers are compassionate and knowledgeable, and are committed to providing Clients with respect and dignity; it is why we care so much and we care deeply about you and the emotional wellbeing of your family.

Integracare connects Clients with Caregivers who are specialized in Dementia Care, highly-qualified, well-trained and supervised on a 24/7 basis by Registered Nursing and Dementia Care Specialists.

We are the only provider of home health care in Toronto and Mississauga that educates 100% of our Caregivers in all four facets of Dementia care, and we follow the province’s dementia strategy closely.

There are many myths that exist in our culture about Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, some of which you’ll find here. It is important to know the realities of Dementia, especially if a loved one has recently been diagnosed.

But first, in order to correct any myths about Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia, it’s necessary to address the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, because they are easy to confuse.

What is the Difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?

The Myths Surrounding Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Dementia is not a single disease. It refers to a general decline in several mental abilities overall and can be caused by a number of different conditions.

What is Dementia?

The term “Dementia” describes a group of symptoms including loss of memory, reasoning and judgement, behavioral and mood changes, and communication abilities. It is caused by damage to brain cells which affects their ability to communicate with each other. Depending on the part(s) of the brain that has been affected, symptoms of Dementia vary from person to person.

These changes are impactful enough to cause difficulty in a person’s day-to-day functioning, with at least two of the core symptoms present.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a very specific type of Dementia, and symptoms include: memory loss, impaired speech and thought, confusion, and even personalities can drastically change with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a physical, progressive, and degenerative disease of the brain, and each symptom affects a person’s ability to function independently.

What Makes Them Different?

When an individual is diagnosed with Dementia, they are being diagnosed with a set of symptoms — similar to someone who has been diagnosed with back pain. Their back hurts, but they’re unsure of what is causing it. It could be a pulled muscle, a herniated disc, arthritis, even stress.

Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of Dementia, and it accounts for 60 to 80% of all cases.

Another major difference between the two is that Alzheimer’s disease is not reversible. Unfortunately, as of today, the disease is degenerative and incurable, whereas other forms of Dementia including vitamin deficiencies or drug or alcohol abuse may be reversible or temporary.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the myths surrounding the condition.

Myth #1: Life is over with a Dementia Diagnosis

There is no denying that life with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be challenging, but with the right support system, individuals with the disease can live healthy, active, and fulfilling lives.

With in-home Dementia Care, we ensure our Clients have access to services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our empathetic, reliable and knowledgeable Caregivers provide essential companionship to Clients, and they are trained and educated by experts on how to react to situations specific to those with Dementia, such as memory loss or aggressive behaviour.

As Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease progresses, your loved one might find difficulty with day-to-day tasks. Our specialized Caregivers are highly trained to assist with activities such as bathing and grooming, cooking meals, dressing, and other daily tasks that might require support.

Life is not over with a Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, however, there may come a time when your family member or loved would benefit from the compassionate support of an in-home Caregiver so that they can live life as fully and joyfully as possible.

Myth #2: Anyone with Dementia becomes Aggressive 

Dementia affects everybody differently, and aggressive behaviour is not a universal symptom. Loss of memory and confusion can cause people to react with frustration and aggression, because it is disorienting to not understand what is going on around them.

Taking steps to ensure their environment is as comfortable as possible is integral to keeping those living with Dementia calm and content. In-home healthcare is a great resource for those with Dementia, because they remain comfortable in their own homes, and there is no need for a change in an environment that may trigger frustration.

Individuals with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease do not always experience aggressive behaviour, but if they do, there are beneficial services that can help, such as massage therapy.

The physical and emotional health benefits of massage therapy in seniors are numerous, and for those with Dementia, massage therapy may alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety, and it can help soothe physical pain by increasing blood flow through the body.

When we are frustrated, confused, or even frightened, our muscles and joints tense and this type of pain can affect everything from mobility to sleep. Our Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) are trained to treat Clients with Dementia very gently and compassionately, and with regular treatments, Clients feel more relaxed and at ease.

Myth #3: Dementia is Preventable  

Alzheimer’s disease cannot be prevented. Cardiovascular diseases and strokes are implicated in over 50% of Canadian Dementia cases and their risk can be reduced by eating healthy, maintaining physical activity, being socially active, and controlling blood pressure.

However, it is in your and your family member’s best interest to consider health plans as soon as a diagnosis has been made, especially with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia can be incredibly isolating, and having regular Caregiver visits is something to look forward to and enjoy. Real friendships develop between Clients and our Caregivers, and our staff is there every step of the way to ensure your safety and well-being of you and your family.

When a loved one has been diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is easy to feel hopeless, but you do have options. Please click here to learn more about how Integracare can help today.