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2023 JAN Family Caregivers Blog

Family Caregivers' Blog is available to share helpful information to support families caring for those with dementia.

Want to take a short trip?  What about caregiving?

Ms. A, a member of our support group, shared her thought:

“I want to take a break from daily caregiving and take a shot trip.  But I can’t leave my mother with dementia alone at home…”  In such situations, there are services you can use, although the regulations vary by province.  If you are already receiving home support from the government (Health Authority), there is a service called Respite Care that provides temporary facility care.  Consult with your case manager about this option.  Alternatively, suppose you are not yet receiving in-home services, and you can look into privately paid independent living facilities (which provide meals, cleaning, and recreational activities) for short-term stays.  Contact these facilities directly for more information.

Mom's Big Outburst in the ER!

Ms. B’s mother, who lives in a care facility, wasn’t feeling well and had to go to the ER.  However, once at ER, she caused quite a scene by running away from the doctors and nurses, refusing blood tests and medication by shouting and cursing.  It was complete chaos.  Ms. B was also extremely upset and didn’t know what to do.  The nurses reassured her by saying, “It’s okay!  This happens a lot!”  And they were right!  For people with dementia, new environments, unfamiliar people, strange noises, equipment, and a fast-paced atmosphere can be overwhelming and overstimulating.  Adding illness to this mix can lead to temporary, significant confusion.

They may try to run away or shout as a reaction to this overstimulation.  Ms. B felt distressed, guilty, and embarrassed for causing trouble for the doctors and nurses.  However, these situations are very common in hospitals!  Nurses and doctors are used to this and expect it to happen, so Do Not Worry!

In such situations, caregivers should try to take a step back emotionally, take a deep breath, and stay calm.  People with dementia often react to the caregiver’s expressions.  If the caregiver is frantic, the person with dementia may become even more agitated.  Conversely, if the caregiver stays calm, it can help the person with dementia to calm down as well.  Alternatively, stepping away and leaving the situation to the doctors and nurses, then returning after a short while, might also be a good approach.

Ms. B’s mother eventually calmed down and returned safely to the facility.  The takeaway is that it’s okay if there is a commotion in the ER!  Changes in environment can be very stressful for people with dementia, so only take them to the ER in genuinely urgent situations and try to have them seen by a GP whenever possible.

Introduce helpful gadgets early!

Ms. M’s husband has early-stage dementia.  Although he is forgetful, he can still handle most daily tasks independently.  He loves exercise and stays healthy by walking every day.  He prefers walking over going to the gym.  However, Ms. M is beginning to worry that he might get lost as time goes by.  Walking is a significant part of his quality of life, so preparing now is essential to ensure he can continue enjoying it.

Nowadays, various GPS devices are available to help locate someone if they get lost.  It’s crucial to get into the habit of using a GPS device early while dementia is still in its mild stages.  As dementia progresses, learning new things or adopting new habits becomes nearly impossible.  Therefore, it’s essential to introduce helpful devices before reaching that point.  Instead of relying on a phone, choose a wearable GPOS device and make it a daily habit to wear it.  Think of it like glasses or clothing – something to wear every day.  Some recommended types include GPS watches or necklace-style medical alert devices.

In addition to GPS devices, calendars were also discussed.  Keeping track of the date and time is essential for maintaining a daily routine.  For someone who doesn’t know what day it is, a monthly calendar won’t help.  A “day calendar” is the best option, especially one that flips automatically without manual intervention.  In the digital age, choose a simple digital clock that only displays the date and time.  A larger display is better for easy read.  Introducing this clock during the early stages of dementia is crucial, as they won’t understand a new clock once the illness progresses.  They will only recognize familiar items.

By incorporating these useful gadgets early on, you can help maintain a higher quality of life for your loved ones with dementia.

ADESSO ( digital alarm clock

Personal medicine dispenser pack

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