What's the Deal With Dementia?Brandermill Woods independent living angle

What's the Deal With Dementia?

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

It's normal to have some memory changes as a person gets older, such as forgetting something that happened recently or losing their car keys. Dementia isn't part of normal aging, though. It's an abnormal impairment of cognitive functioning. If your loved one shows signs of dementia, understanding the diagnosis and learning about the care options for dementia in Richmond, VA, can help you make decisions about how to proceed.

At Brandermill Woods, we understand the unique challenges associated with cognitive decline and also recognize that no two patients are the same. Our dedicated memory care unit, The Holly Inn, features specially trained staff who take immense pride in outstanding, interactive care and cultivate continued engagement with their residents.

Read on to learn more about dementia and how Memory Care can slow the progression and help overcome cognitive difficulties.

What Is Dementia?
Dementia refers to a general loss of cognitive function and isn't a specific disease itself. It's used to describe several conditions related to cognitive decline. Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that's most familiar. Dementia differs from normal memory decline in that the individual often forgets knowledge and old memories that they should normally remember, even as they get older.

Symptoms of Dementia
Dementia symptoms can vary by person. The severity and progression can also vary from one person to another. Some possible signs of dementia include:

  • Memory loss, including forgetting family members' names
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Trouble communicating
  • Showing poor judgment
  • Poor reasoning or problem-solving
  • Getting lost
  • Having difficulty doing routine tasks independently

Getting a Diagnosis
Since dementia typically gets worse over time, an early diagnosis is essential. Treatment options, including medication and placement in a Memory Care community, could help slow the progress. Starting the treatments early can help your loved one get the most out of them.

A dementia diagnosis doesn't involve one simple test. It's usually based on a variety of information gathered from the individual's medical history, an exam, behavioral changes, and various tests. Diagnostic procedures often include:

  • CT
  • MRI
  • PET scan
  • Neurological evaluation
  • Psychiatric evaluation
  • Lab testing for physical issues, such as infections, vitamin deficiencies, or thyroid issues
  • Genetic testing

Challenges of Caring for Someone With Dementia
Caring for a loved one with dementia is often challenging and can grow more difficult as the condition progresses. Some challenges include:

  • Time commitment: The extra workload of caring for a loved one can take away from your career, kids, and other responsibilities. Balancing those commitments can be challenging and can leave you feeling exhausted or stretched thin. Asking for help from other family members, hiring professional help, or cutting back other commitments can help.
  • Mental strain: Watching a loved one's memory decline and struggle to care for themselves can cause anxiety and depression in caregivers. Being a caregiver can also be isolating. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally can reduce this issue. You might see a therapist or join a caregiver support group.
  • Financial burden: Your finances could be affected if you're a caregiver. You might spend money hiring others to help or making modifications to your home to move your loved one in with you. Sometimes durable medical equipment is covered by health insurance.
  • Safety: Dementia can cause aggressive behaviors in some people. Your physical well-being could be at risk if your loved one exhibits these behaviors. You might have difficulty keeping them and yourself safe. Talk to a healthcare professional if safety is a concern.
  • Constant caregiving: Many people with dementia can't be left alone for any amount of time. This means you may need to arrange for constant care if you're not available all the time.

If you are noticing the strains of caregiving, it may be a good time to explore a continuing care retirement community. Brandermill Woods offers Independent Living near Richmond with a range of services and progressive care options that are available should you need it.

How Memory Care Can Help
Memory care in The Holly Inn at Brandermill Woods can provide the support your loved one needs while relieving you of the often taxing responsibilities of being a caregiver. Memory Care communities create a safe environment where residents can explore safely. This removes the risks that those with dementia face while living at home, offering homelike accommodations and integrated security features, such as monitoring systems at the exits. Team members undergo training in dementia care to provide the best possible attention based on the unique needs of the residents.

Care is also structured to both stimulate and calm the mind to help people with dementia. Routine daily schedules give residents a sense of familiarity that can keep them at ease. The Holly Inn at Brandermill Woods offers individualized therapy and engaging activities designed for people with dementia.

We've also implemented a Snoezelen Multi-Sensory Environment at The Holly Inn, which is a relaxing space that helps soothe agitation while also providing delightful stimulation that fosters communication. When you choose a community such as Brandermill Woods that offers various care levels, Independent Living residents can transition into memory care if needed. This can make the transition easier for you and your loved one.

Visit Brandermill Woods
As a Continuing Care Retirement Community, Brandermill Woods offers senior living with the level of support your loved one needs. Contact us to schedule a tour to see the community for yourself. No matter what level of assistance your loved one needs or may need down the road, our staff is ready to support your family through the transition and create a tailored care plan.