All seniors hope to stay healthy as they age, but even more than they worry about their physical health, they worry they will develop dementia. And there’s a good chance they may. According to the Alzheimer's Association, almost 6 million Americans, ages 65 and older, are living with Alzheimer’s dementia. And the longer you live, the greater the odds are that you will develop it.
But every dementia patient is different. A dementia diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean you will forget who your family members are or stop enjoying the things you’ve always loved to do. What it does mean is that you will need extra care, a different kind of care, so you can live your best life as you age.
Too often people say “Alzheimer’s” when they really mean “dementia.” Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a number of conditions that affect a person’s memory, language, and problem-solving skills. Alzheimer’s is simply the most common type. Others include Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and frontotemporal dementia.
If you think you or a senior loved one may have dementia, the best thing to do is go to a doctor and find out for sure. When you have a diagnosis, find a neurologist who specializes in dementia to find out more.
You’ll want to know:
- How quickly does the disease progress, and what is the life expectancy of someone who has it?
- Are there medications that help delay the worsening of symptoms?
- What can I expect as the disease progresses?
Make Decisions Early
Dementia is nothing if not unpredictable. Though it could be several years between when you are diagnosed and when you start to need extra care, this could also happen much sooner, maybe even after just a few months.
That’s why you should sit down with your loved ones as soon as you are diagnosed and come up with a care plan that includes identifying a dementia care community where you may one day live.
Dementia Care Is Different
As the number of seniors with dementia grows, so does the number of communities designed to meet their needs. The best ones go beyond keeping residents safe and well cared for and also provide services that help improve their quality of life.
A good dementia care community will offer the following:
- Staff members trained in dementia care so that they can identify issues with residents and learn strategies for how to handle them.
- An individual care plan for each resident
- Activities designed specifically to engage residents with all levels of dementia, including dementia games that may help slow the progression of symptoms
- Floor plans designed to minimize confusion
- On-site support groups or family counseling sessions
- A kitchen and dining room staff that will customize meals for dementia patients who might have trouble using utensils, for instance
- 24-hour security
The Arbor at BridgeMill in Canton has a dementia care neighborhood designed to meet the ever-changing needs of community residents who have dementia. It operates under the philosophy that the right care can help dementia patients keep their minds engaged, and thus lead fuller, happier lives.
The company’s free guide, “Living Well with Dementia,” explains how seniors can learn how to not only live with dementia, but also thrive with it.
To find out more about The Arbor at BridgeMill and its dementia care neighborhood, call 770-691-0022.