Elderly Care for Dementia Sufferers

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Elderly Care for Dementia Patients

Dementia is one of the most common conditions affecting seniors in Canada. With the aging of the "Baby Boomer” generation, it’s expected that by 2031, 1.4 million Canadians will suffer from dementia. If a family member has been diagnosed with dementia, you may be worrying about what the future has in store. Medical professionals will be able to advise you regarding the various options available, but no matter what you decide, you should consider engaging a personal support worker, or PSW. A PSW provides care and companionship to seniors, allowing them – and their families – to experience a better quality of life.

Benefits of Hiring a Caregiver

Patients with dementia often have difficulty with "activities of daily living,” or ADLs in medical parlance. If your loved one is living at home, you may be providing help with these ADLs. Hiring a caregiver can lighten your workload, and may even provide a more comfortable experience for your spouse or parent. Sometimes having a professional caregiver to look after the client’s personal hygiene, for example, is a great relief to family members who find that these duties can affect their previous relationship. A PSW is trained in ways to accomplish these tasks easily and efficiently.
Trained caregivers can help to organize and administer medications, treat wounds, or help with recommended therapies such as pressure stockings. They can also offer housekeeping support, performing tasks like laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and tidying. They can drive the client to medical appointments, or escort them out to socialize or shop.
Many agencies provide caregivers, but some of these perform only a limited range of functions in the home setting. Better caregiver agencies have personal support workers that will provide a wide variety of support and care to your family member in a number of different settings, 24/7. Keep in mind that your loved one’s needs will change over time, so when engaging a PSW it’s best to use an agency that offers maximum flexibility. A good caregiver will form a lasting bond with your family and will advocate for your loved one no matter where he or she is living.

Finding the Right PSW

Beware of agencies that send many different PSWs on a rotating basis, as this is unsettling for any client and can cause great stress for dementia patients. Ideally, you’ll want to work with an agency that puts value on finding one compatible caregiver (and a regular backup) who will be a steady presence in your family’s life. This might include finding a PSW who speaks your loved one’s first language, for example, or one who has the same hobbies or interests. Better agencies allow you to interview several candidates and choose the one that’s right for your family.
Make sure that the agency you choose hires only caregivers who have completed Personal Support Worker training at a reputable college or learning institution, and that employees are carefully screened, insured, and well paid.
Finally, select an assisted living agency that does regular "check-ins” to ensure that your family member is receiving exactly the care that they need.
A diagnosis of dementia can be devastating for both the patient and family members, but finding good care can help to make a challenging situation manageable. 
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