What is dementia care? Dementia is a progressive disease that slowly destroys the brain cells and cognitive function. Symptoms include memory loss, behavioral problems, language impairment, decreased emotional response, decreased ability to conduct social relationships, and irritability. The disease has no cure. There are ways to treat the symptoms and to live with a loved one with dementia.
The two main types of dementia care are home care and in-home with a complex care unit. With a live-in dementia care service, your loved one lives at home with a specially trained professional, such as a nursing assistant. They may be a full-time caregiver or part-time. However, a caregiver's role includes more than just feeding the patient and keeping an eye on their health. The caregiver is also responsible for bathing, getting dressed, getting medical attention, changing bed linen and assisting with personal hygiene.
People with dementia typically require less daily support than someone who does not have the condition. If your loved one needs more care than this then they would most likely need a residential care facility, a skilled nursing care facility or a hospital. Residential care is the most expensive form of dementia care. It involves having the patient moved to a specific location - usually at the patient's expense - so they can receive extra help with daily living activities and to recover from their condition. The majority of patients who live in residential care facilities are not able to live on their own and therefore do not need to go through the difficulties involved in going through a change of environment.
When looking at dementia it is important to look at both the symptoms and the disease. Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia which affects the central nervous system and is degenerative. It is also found more commonly in older people but can affect anyone of any age. While symptoms may differ from person to person, they generally include: difficulty concentrating, poor short-term memory, frequent confusion, loss of orientation and balance, decline in judgment and language, declining performance on emotional, social and physical tasks and experiencing a gradual decline in abilities to plan ahead and control behaviour.
There are different types of dementia and different levels of severity. While everyone with Alzheimer's will eventually become a long-term care facility resident, there are treatments available for the beginning stages of the disease as well as those that will keep them from becoming seriously challenged. It is also possible to keep a loved one in the home while they go through the process of being tested for and treated for Alzheimer's, which is an excellent way of preventing the onset of the condition.
Symptoms and severity of dementia vary by the type and level of the condition. Caregivers should be aware of the symptoms and the potential for progression, so that appropriate measures can be taken. A loved one does not need to live with Alzheimer's, but can benefit from ongoing mental health care and can remain active and productive. There is no cure for the disease, but with the right support and information, a caring giver can help their loved one adapt to the changes as they begin to experience the different types of symptoms associated with dementia.