Advanced dementia

Is your loved one suffering from dementia?

Taking care of a friend or family member that has dementia can be mentally, physically and logistically difficult. Perhaps you have started to notice that it is getting progressively harder to evaluate if your loved one has hurt themselves or has developed new, additional medical problems that warrant a trip to the doctor? No matter how insignificant the cues may seem, it’s crucial to pay attention – even subtle changes in behaviour or demeanour can provide insights into how your loved one is coping with dementia and other related issues that often develop as the disease progresses

As the disease progresses, it is common for dementia suffers to gradually lose their capacity to recollect details and convey feelings/ideas clearly. Many care givers and family members do find this distressing and worrisome – especially when their loved ones insist on remaining in the family home for as long as possible.

Thankfully, there are several options to help you balance your need to protect your loved one and keep them safe with his/her need to remain independent and retain their sense of connection to the past and their community. You are not alone in this journey, and we are here to help your loved one maximize their quality of life and safety at home during this difficult time.

What support is available?

In addition to getting in-home support from our capable and caring team of nurses and personal carers, here are some valuable tips to help you manage your loved one’s needs and care as they continue to deal with the progression of dementia.

1.     Continence

Incontinence (the loss of bladder and/or bowel control) is experienced by many dementia sufferers. As mental functions decline, they tend to be less aware of bodily sensations such as the feeling of having a full bladder and the memory of how to respond appropriately. This is often distressing for both the person suffering dementia and their loved ones.

Here are a few tips to help you manage incontinence and respect your loved one’s privacy and dignity:

  • observe your loved one’s patterns and behaviour – watch for non-verbal clues and increased agitation as an indication they need to go to the toilette
  • encourage them to go at regular intervals, instead of waiting until you think they need to go to the toilet, and when this happens, use short, simple words to suggest they go to the toilet
    make it easy and safe for them to get to the toilette quickly – consider signage, lighting, handles on the wall and visual prompts
  • select clothing with elastic and velcro so it can easily be removed
  • use pads and other continence aids
  • introduce a high fibre diet
2.     Sleep

Your loved one may become confused about the time of the day, making sleep elusive for them at night. Sleep can also be affected and influenced by:

  • side effects of medication
  • medical conditions – arthritis, depression, anxiety, urinary tract infections, sleep apnoea
  • climate in the room – temperature, humidity
  • poor lighting
  • hunger
  • caffeine
  • going to bed too early, unexpected change in routine or not getting enough exercise
3.     Memory

Loss of memory and confusion are the most common concerns for both dementia sufferers and their caregivers. Try these strategies to help you cope if the person you care for has memory loss or confusion:

  • an identify bracelet can help to ensure that your loved one’s name, address, medical condition and emergency contact number are always on hand
  • home modifications such as automatic cut offs for stoves, kettles, bathtubs, irons etc.
  • labelling doors and cupboards with visual aids can help your loved one remember where everything is
  • refrain from making unnecessary changes to their home environment
  • use a book or notice board to communicate important information, emergency phone numbers and planned visits to help boost your loved ones’ memory
  • hire a nurse or personal carer to assist with medications
  • wherever possible, use a dose administration aid to ensure your loved one takes the right amount of medication
  • display a large clock in a prominent location to help them keep track of time
4.     Aggression

Some dementia sufferers do struggle with severe behavioural swings such as aggression. Here are a few suggestions to help you diffuse aggressive behaviour:

  • communicate aggressive tendencies to all health professionals, care providers, case managers, family and friends
  • plan to protect yourself or plan to leave the house if your loved one is prone to aggression
  • take note and document any possible triggers to help minimise outbursts and harm
  • remove or hide sharp objects or weapons
  • get professional advice from a doctor, support group or mental health professional

Click here to receive more information and tips for working with and helping your loved one with dementia.

Contact us now to receive a free assessment and detailed plan for how we can work together to help you take care of your loved one and keep them in the safe and familiar surrounds of the family home for as long as possible.

What community support is available?

If your loved one has dementia and you need assistance to ensure they remain safe and healthy in their home, there are many community based services that offer education and support.

Dementia behaviour management advisory service

The Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) offers support to manage the behavioural, psychological and physical symptoms of dementia. Visit the DBMAS website to find out more or call us to discuss your questions and concerns.

National dementia helpline

The National Dementia Helpline has a toll free number -1800 100 500. They conduct conferences and seminars on the subject of dementia and can put you in touch with support groups.

Alzheimer’s Australia

The Alzheimer’s Australia website can provide you with help-sheets and safety checklists.

Carer support groups

Carer support groups can put you in touch with other carers who understand first hand what you are going through. This affords you the opportunity to share stories, advice and suggestions to support each other as care givers.

Legal help

As dementia is an irreversible, degenerative condition, it’s important for your loved one to get their affairs in order and plan for the future as early as possible. We can recommend a reputable law firm who can provide professional assistance.

When you are ready to find some help to support you and your loved one and discuss a holistic and supportive dementia care plan, call us on 9499 1200 or submit a written request here by following this link to our contact page. We are happy to offer you a free checklist so that you can take steps today to make the home environment safer for your loved one.

Call Sequel today on 9499 1200 to see how we can be of assistance.

Andrew’s story

Andrew has been suffering from dementia for several years now. The cognitive impairment is becoming more and more noticeable but he desperately wants to remain at home for as long as he is able to do so. Unfortunately, he slipped and fell recently in the kitchen, fracturing several ribs. It was a miracle that he still had the where with all to call for an ambulance.

Andrew lives alone – his wife passed away several years ago and he often forgets that she is deceased. His son Ben, who lives interstate, worries about him and contacted us to help provide support and care for Andrew to remain safely within the familiar surrounds of the home he had lived in for the past 30 years.

Ben realized that his father has now reached the stage where he needs a higher level of care. Functioning at home without supervision is no longer an option – especially with the recent fall and Andrew’s tendency to start cooking and leave the stove unattended. He also needs help with prompting and reminders to ensure that he is taking the right medication at the right time.

At some point, Andrew will have to move into an aged care home where he can receive support 24/7. Even though he is not yet ready, we assisted Ben to prepare the application for a nearby facility just around the corner from where he lives now. Hopefully, they will have a place for his father when the timing is right. In the meantime, with a simple plan of about 25-28 hours a week we were able to support Andrew with a daily nursing visit to administer medications and check his fractured ribs. Some personal carer support each day gives Andrew help with meal preparation, eating, showering, shopping, socialisation and settling in at night.

We were also able to connect Ben with a counselling service and he found it very useful and supportive to connect with other carers who are in similar situations. He now knows there are a whole host of options including dementia support groups and dementia counselling services to help him and his father if either of them ever just needs someone to talk to.

If you or your loved one are suffering from dementia and you require some extra support, contact us now to receive a free assessment and detailed plan for how we can work together to help you or your loved one. If your loved one prefers to stay in the safe and familiar surrounds of the family home for as long as possible, we can provide you with the right support and options.