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Is Dementia a Death Sentence?

There are currently 55 million people diagnosed with dementia worldwide, with the figure expected to rise to some 139 million by 2050. It’s a scary condition that can seriously affect the mental health of those diagnosed with it and their loved ones. It’s natural to be concerned and apprehensive, especially since the number of cases will increase.

Many people feel that dementia is a “death sentence”. On the contrary, fostering a person-centred approach to care will improve the quality of care for people with dementia and their families. Also, remember that there are great support networks of people going through the same challenge and that you aren’t alone in this situation.

Breaking down stigmas to allow earlier diagnosis

Some forms of dementia are more difficult to slow down than others. It’s a challenging situation to be in, but it doesn’t mean people with dementia will have to immediately stop living their lives as before. Think of the myth’s psychological effect – dementia is a death sentence – has on those facing the condition. We must break down stigmas and realize that many people with dementia continue to work, socialize, enjoy their hobbies, and enjoy life as before.

If we can remove these stigmas, more people may be willing to go to the doctor with their concerns, potentially leading to earlier diagnoses. Early detection is critical – the sooner someone has been diagnosed with dementia, the better chances they’ll have to implement strategies that slow down the process. This also enables people to make future decisions while they’re still able.

Educate yourself on the condition

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is hard on the whole family, especially if you’re not sure what to expect. The Alzheimer’s Societies of Toronto and Ontario websites provide excellent resources to learn about what causes the disease, what to expect as time goes on, and how you can help provide support.

Find a support network for when you need help

One of the best things you or your loved one can do when facing this challenging condition is to find a support network. You’ll quickly realize that dementia isn’t a death sentence, as you’ll see plenty of people in the same position continuing to live their lives. A support network will help you navigate those difficult times and ensure that you can get help when you need it. Tour network will also serve as a constant reminder that you aren’t alone and that life as you know doesn’t suddenly end with an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis.

Some forms of dementia can be stalled

Unfortunately, there is currently no single cure for dementia. However, you should know that caregivers can use specific treatments and strategies to effectively slow down the progression of the disease.

The majority of medicinal treatments currently available are used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. The main ones are:

  • Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors: These treatments help prevent enzymes from breaking down acetylcholine in the brain, which is a substance that promotes nerve communication
  • Memantine: Used to slow down mild to severe cases of Alzheimer’s, this type of medicine is typically taken by those unable to take Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors

Be sure to speak to your doctor about which medication they recommend to treat your particular dementia condition.

How caregivers can help slow down dementia

There are also lifestyle adjustments and steps that caregivers can take to help slow the progression of cognitive decline, allowing the person to thrive and have days full of joy.
These practical strategies can directly improve life for people with dementia and their families.

Listen, observe, and understand the person

In order to provide support to our loved one, we need to take time to understand the person behind the disease by listening and observing. By understanding the person’s past and what triggers behavioural changes, you’ll be able to respond in a loving, supportive manner that provides calmness and reassurance to the person.

Establish a routine

There are plenty of benefits to implementing a routine for dementia patients. You should ensure that it’s tailored to their abilities and interests and that they’re comfortable with the routine. Enabling them to do tasks and activities at certain times will increase their chances of continuing to do so as the condition progresses. This practice will allow your loved one to be more comfortable and independent for longer.

Engage and promote activities

One of the best ways to help slow down the progression of dementia is to stay physically and mentally active. Look to encourage your loved one to continue doing hobbies and meeting friends to ensure they’re getting enough exercise. Staying healthy and mentally sharp will help slow down cognitive decline.

Include them in household routines

It’s worth noting that you must not exclude your loved one or patient from helping where they can. This practice will only make them feel lonely, frustrated, and sad. A much more positive approach is to allow them to continue living as normally as possible and develop a sense that their condition isn’t a barrier to a happy life.

As long as they have loving help in their life, they’ll continue to be happy indeed.

In-home Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care in Etobicoke, Mississauga, and Brampton

Looking after a loved one who’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be very gratifying. However, as the condition progresses, you might feel the need for professional support that will give your relative the specialized care they need.

When you need extra help, give CareHop a call. Our team specializes in providing in-home Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care, as well as services such as homemaking and meal preparation, personal care, activities, and casual companionship that will help your loved one live independently and bring joy and sunshine into their home every day.

Learn more about our respectful, empathetic eldercare services by getting
in touch with CareHop today. We’d love to discuss how our approach to quality Alzeimer’s disease and dementia care can make a positive difference to your family.

About the Author

Michael Lu is the founder of CareHop. He started the business inspired by his Grandmother to look at ageing as a happy experience to bring sunshine into the homes of others.

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