Providing Wholesome Care for Those Living with Dementia
Dementia is a complex illness that changes the lives of individuals and families. It requires attentive care for a range of physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Our dementia services are specially tailored for the needs of individuals, and always delivered with compassion, lightheartedness, and dependability.
What is Dementia?
‘Dementia’ is a broader term for the many illnesses involving the decline of mental ability. Types of dementia include Alzheimer’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, and Vascular Dementia.
Dementia is a degenerative and progressive disease that affects the brain cells of the person with dementia. Those suffering from dementia will commonly lose their memory, communication skills, organizational ability, and will have a changed perception of the world around them.
The gradual effects of dementia can be scary and frustrating for the sick, and overwhelming for primary caregivers. Caring for an individual with dementia is a demanding and complex role. Each patient will progress through the disease at a different rate and experience different reactions. Because of the cognitive effects of dementia, many seniors require assistance from a specialized dementia care in-home senior caregiver.
What About the Carers’ Health
Many seniors with dementia require home care delivered directly to their residences. According to Healthcare Interactive, 70% of caregivers are women. They are often designated by other family members to become the primary family caregivers.
Dementia care by a family member is stressful, especially when the family caregiver has other responsibilities, such as his or her own family or career. Dementia caregivers can become responsible for their loved ones finances, house cleaning and maintenance, activities of daily living, and emotional support. The added responsibilities are overwhelming and often lead to caregiver burnout.
As the disease progresses, you want to spend quality moments with loved ones. You want to enjoy their company, engage their minds and spirits, and foster close family bonds. You want to spend this time deepening your connections instead of taking on the parent role to your elderly parent.
Harmony Caregiving supports the designated family caregiver. We give you precious time with your loved one while we handle the laundry, grocery shopping, and doctor appointments.
If you’ve been caring for a loved one with dementia, you’ll know the importance of caring for yourself. It’s just like on an airplace, when they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping someone else. You can only guarantee their wellbeing if you’ve worked to guarantee your own. So make sure to give yourself a break, whether it’s a walk in the river valley, a yoga class, or a good book. With Harmony Caregiving’s dementia care services, you can focus on the moments that matter most while we provide vital dementia care for your loved one.
About Our Dementia Care Services
The physical safety of dementia patients is of utmost importance. We work hard to provide a safe and functional environment.
People with dementia do well with regular routines and highly structured environments. Structured environments keep their minds active and spirits lifted, adding meaning to their lives. Consistent with this, we offer a variety of dementia care services for individuals and their families. We provide:
- Home Care Assessments that determine the needs of your loved one by learning about their medical history, their personality, and their preferences.
- An Individualized Structured Program Plan (ISPP) based on our needs assessment and interview. This provides a customized, consistent, and engaging environment for your loved one.
- Caregiving and Companionship Services matched according to your loved ones personality, interests, skill level, and compatibility.
- An Art Program with activities based on your loved one’s interests and skill level.
- Access to Music Journeying Programming, which provides musical therapy proven to be highly effective for dementia patients.
- Access to our Mobile Book Library, which contains a wide variety of resources and activities.
- Dementia Sensory Kits that engage all of the senses to help seniors with dementia retain their motor and memory skills.
- Multi-Sensory Boards, which are custom designed to fully engage your loved one’s senses around a familiar theme or topic of interest.
- Leaving a Legacy, a process of interviewing and recording your loved one’s stories and memories to be shared for generations to come.
- Commissioned Paintings of your loved one, beloved pet, or favourite scene. These paintings are done by our art facilitator and are available on demand. Painted murals within a client’s room (designed to calm the mind) can also be arranged upon request.
- A Family Caregiver Support Group that meets on the second Wednesday of every month. This group supports families feeling overwhelmed with the responsibilities of caring for themselves and their loved ones.
- A Tea Service in our sitting room to help you unwind with a cup of tea served in fine old china.
The “Family Room,” a safe and secure communication tool where you can see daily notes from your caregiver so you can be constantly updated on your loved one’s activities, mental and emotional health, and ongoing needs (see below for more details).
The Harmony Difference
What makes us different from other companies is our philosophy and our approach to home memory care. Edmonton has a variety of caregiving and senior care services to choose from. But at Harmony Caregiving, every person is treated as an individual. People aren’t just a health card number; they’re unique human beings with distinct interests and needs.
Our philosophy encompasses a more person-centred approach to healing, considering a patient’s mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of being. Our dementia care plans are designed to meet the client where they are in their journey with dementia. These care plans are flexible and progress as new needs arise.
The stress-free journey begins with a free in-home assessment for each client. We’ll construct an Individual Structured Program Plan (ISPP) based on that assessment. Your ISPP is regularly reassessed and updated. It will provide your loved one with a variety of practical and enjoyable activities on a regular schedule. The structure and activities will engage the mind of your family member and turn their home into a safe, predictable environment for him or her. Learn more about our ISPP.
We believe in providing a feeling of independence for our dementia patients. To do this we encourage our clients to try things with us if they are unable to do them on their own. We pay close attention to their unique preferences and interests, and incorporate these into their daily activities.
We also know that needs go well beyond those of essential caregiving, which is why we incorporate outside services into our plans. Our strong community partnerships allow us to bring a variety of services right to a client’s home. This includes hearing assessments, massages, foot care, and hair care.
About Our Dementia Caregivers
Our Caregivers are certified by an Alberta Health Services approved program. Caregiver duties are performed by qualified staff to safely provide the following services to assist seniors living with dementia:
- Toileting/Personal Hygiene
- Medication Reminders
- Healthy Meal Preparation & Assistance with Feeding (when necessary)
- Home Cleaning
- Grocery & Errand Running
- Medical Appointment Accompaniment
- Companionship & Emotional Support
- Respite Care
- Palliative Care
Finding the Right Caregiver for You
You need a caregiver that understands you. A Specialized Dementia Caregiver is carefully selected through a highly involved, professional, personal interview and hiring process. A personality reference check is done with previous employers, and a criminal record check and vulnerable persons check is completed.
Our caregivers are asked about their personal interests and activities. We also learn about their values and beliefs surrounding life, spirituality, culture, and death. We then match their replies to the responses given in the assessment, allowing us to match you with a caregiver who is in tune with your needs and beliefs.
The “Family Room”
We believe in open communication about your loved one’s physical health and emotional state of mind. Communication is the key to a harmonious relationship. In keeping with this, our caregivers complete progress notes on their activities with your loved one daily. These notes are also put into our safe and secure online “Family Room” that families can access anytime, anywhere internet is available. Using technology, one on one communication, and personal contact, you stay informed about your loved one’s progress.
Additionally, our management team is available 24/7 to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Our Director of Client Services will keep in contact with you via phone, in-person visits, email, text or mail – whatever your preference is.
Dementia vs. Normal Signs of Aging
It’s important to recognize the difference between symptoms of dementia and the normal signs of aging. The following are considered normal signs of aging:
- Forgetting a name or appointment, but being able to recall them later
- Making occasional errors balancing a chequebook
- Requiring occasional help using new technologies or some appliances
- Being confused about the day of the week, but being able to recall it later
- Vision changes related to cataracts
- Occasional trouble finding the right word
- Infrequently misplacing small items such as the remote, glasses, or keys
- Making a bad decision once in a while
- Occasionally not wanting to go through with previous commitments to social or family obligations
Top 10 Warning Signs of Dementia
Sadly, there currently is no cure for dementia, and the effects are non-reversible.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association of Canada, the following are considered the Top 10 Warning Signs of Dementia:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life. One of the most common early signs of Alzheimer’s is forgetting recently learned information. This includes forgetting important dates or events; repeatedly asking for the same information; or relying on memory aides or family members for things previously handled on their own.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems. Some people experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan, work with numbers, or even concentrate. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They’ll likely take much longer to do things than they did before.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure. Sometimes, people with early signs of dementia have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work, or remembering the rules of a favourite game.
- Confusion with time or place. Those with dementia may lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it isn’t happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance, and determining colour or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not recognize their own reflection.
- New problems with speaking or writing. They may have trouble following or joining a conversation, may stop in the middle of a conversation, and may even repeat themselves. Often, they’ll struggle finding the right word or call things by the wrong name.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find items again or place things in unusual places. Sometimes, they even accuse others of stealing.
- Decreased or poor judgment. They may experience change in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities. A person may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects, or sports they formerly enjoyed. They may have trouble keeping up with a favourite sports team or remembering how to complete a favourite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.
- Changes in mood and personality. The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in unfamiliar places.
If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s important to visit a physician as soon as possible. Early diagnosis leads to the best possible treatment, support, and plan for managing your loved ones’ future.
Concerned About Dementia Care?
If your loved one is experiencing the symptoms listed above, contact their doctor for an immediate assessment. It’s also important to speak with a dementia home care specialist and learn how they can help you with this difficult transition. With one short phone call, Harmony Caregiving will provide you with all the necessary information to make the best choices for your loved one. Contact us today!