Dementia: Understanding the signs and how to manage it – Global News Calgary

Jodi Hughes (00:00):

A certain amount of memory loss is often associated with old age, but in many cases, it’s more serious. Each year, thousands of Canadians are diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Joining me now to talk about this is MP Fortin from Ohana Care Health Services. Good morning, MP. How are you today?

MP Fortin (00:18):

Good morning, Jodi. I’m doing well. How about you?

Jodi Hughes (00:20):

I’m good. A little hot, but that’s okay.

MP Fortin (00:22):

Yeah.

Jodi Hughes (00:23):

Now dementia, memory loss, this is a real fear for many people, for themselves and for their loved ones. How can you tell when someone has dementia versus memory loss?

MP Fortin (00:35):

So the main difference is going to be how it affects the day-to-day and the independence of the senior. Sometimes not remembering a word, it happens to all of us, even if we are not seniors. However, if you’re starting to switch words and they don’t make sense anymore, or if you’re disoriented in time and space, you don’t know which day it is. Is it 7:00 in the morning? Is it 7:00 at night? And then big changes in personalities as well. If your loved one or yourself, you find yourself drifting away from all the activities that you used to do for no good reason or no health concerns, that’s when you should see a doctor to really get to the root of it. Because sometimes you may think that it could be dementia, but it could also be another underlying health condition. So it’s very important to talk to a healthcare professional.

Jodi Hughes (01:24):

Now, what can you do if you have somebody in your life who is showing symptoms of this, or who has been diagnosed? What can you do to help care for them?

MP Fortin (01:34):

So you’re going to want to, again, involve the healthcare professionals in the first place. So you can have a diagnosis and know what type of dementia you have because every dementia is different. In the early stages, you can support your loved one in their independence by assisting them, by having little reminders, notes around the house, also doing daily checkups. Yeah. So just being there for your loved one and supporting them and trying to notice if there’s a progression in the disease, if it’s getting worse or if it’s stable.

Jodi Hughes (02:11):

Now, if you do take on a caregiver role, inevitably in many cases, you’ll get to a point where you realize that you probably need some extra help. Where is that tipping point? Is it definitive or is it difficult to detect?

MP Fortin (02:28):

So the tipping point would be when you can no longer go about your life without having to care for a loved one. So if it’s a spouse, living with a spouse with dementia, and they can no longer use the washroom in fear that their loved one will be leaving the home, or if you’re afraid of going for a nap because you’re unsure that your loved one will have the judgment to turn off the stove after they use it and other things like this, that’s when you’re going to want to reach out. If you’re an adult child and you cannot go to work anymore because you always have to run back to your parents’ place, that’s when you’re going to want to get more people into your life, having either a home care company or organization step in and try to help you out in providing all the services.

Jodi Hughes (03:22):

And there are many groups and organizations out there who can help and who can provide information, aren’t there?

MP Fortin (03:28):

Absolutely. Information, training, support. A great example is the Alzheimer’s Society of Calgary. There’s also apps. There’s one called Dementia Connections in which you can type in symptoms and challenges you have with your loved ones, and they give you tips and cues to manage the situation on your own. Also, Alberta Health Services is always there to help. 811 and all the home care companies, they have a lot of knowledge and professionals that are used to dealing with seniors with dementia and can really assist in helping you having your loved one living their best life.

Jodi Hughes (04:05):

Very good. And that’s the key, isn’t it? MP, thank you so much for your time today. For more information, you can head to ohanacare.ca.

 

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