We understand that memory loss and other symptoms of dementia can present significant challenges to older adults and the loved ones who help care for them. The good news: there are ways to manage these challenges and improve quality of life for everyone.
Understanding the Problem
Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia. Memory loss. These are words we often hear but don’t always take the time to understand. When you or your loved one find these things are making life challenging, it is helpful to gain an understanding of what’s ahead. Let’s start with a couple definitions:
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that impairs memory, thinking abilities and eventually many systems in the body. It progresses from mild cognitive impairment to stages of increasing disability. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.
Dementia is a loss of cognitive ability and behavioral changes that significantly interfere with a person’s daily life. The symptoms of dementia – such as memory loss, impaired reasoning and mood changes – are common to people with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as a number of other disorders that affect the brain. These disorders include vascular dementia, Lewy body disease, frontotemporal dementia and others.
Our infographic to the right [AH2] provides more information about these various brain disorders. An exact diagnosis is often not known. However, you or your loved one should know dementia is the result of real changes that occur in the brain, not a psychological condition nor a simple result of aging.
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Memory impairment and cognitive decline can affect many aspects of life, but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming challenge for you or your loved one. With the right people, ideas and resources, you can create meaningful days with less stress.
Ideas for Creating Better Days:
- Take the time to educate yourself on brain-related diseases and learn interpersonal strategies that may reduce anxiety and challenging behaviors in your loved one
- Establish a daily routine but also look for opportunities for enriching experiences that stimulate the mind
- Find dedicated, engaging caregivers who can connect with your loved one and make them feel at ease
- Encourage as much social connection as possible for your loved one
- Sign up for programs around the city that make meaningful activities accessible again. Examples include music, art and dancing programs for people with cognitive impairment. See below [AH4] for more information on these programs.
- Make the time for “self-care.” Supporting someone with cognitive impairment can take a lot of energy, so make sure you find ways to have time to yourself and take advantage of stress-reduction techniques.
Support From ComForCare NYC
Individuals with cognitive challenges from dementia may not require assistance with personal care such as bathing or dressing assistance in the early stages. Rather, they need to feel connected to others and maintain their identity. Matching the right caregiver based on interests, personality and other factors can be critical for achieving the best quality of life.
We hire our caregivers based on their competency, interpersonal skills and intelligence. While they come from different backgrounds – from performing artists to lifetime professional caregivers – they have one thing in common: They find fulfillment in bringing joy to their clients.
We understand each person is unique with respect to the nature and degree of their cognitive impairment. Individuals with more progressed symptoms will often require a caregiver with deep experience and training in how to handle challenging behaviors, whereas individuals who are in the early stages dementia may benefit more from having a caregiver who can share common interests and develop a strong personal relationship.
In all cases, our caregivers will have the right training and guidance for supporting their client. ComForCare NYC offers its own training program, DementiaWise, as well as trainings from third-party experts.
Training focuses on the following elements:
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NYC Resources for Dementia Care Support
Education and Support
Medical Center of Excellence