The numbers are staggering. There are currently 564,000 Canadians living with dementia and within 15 years, that number is expected to climb to more than 900,000.
Unfortunately, with today’s rapidly growing sector of seniors, long-term care infrastructure is not keeping up with demand and the projected demand is only going to make matters worse.
Dementia affects each person differently and, one of the keys for long-term care, is to recognize each person as an individual and take steps to make their environment as comfortable and calming as possible.
“Everyone needs to feel that their lives have purpose,” says Andrea Prentice of Southampton’s Jarlett Care Centre. “Here at the Care Centre we have implemented the ‘Dementiability’ Concept through the ‘Better Care for Seniors’ program. Residents are asked, not told, if they want to help with a task. It can be something as simple as folding laundry or matching up socks. It gives them something physical to do, something with an end goal in mind. “
(L) Steve Wolfe, whose wife Eileen is the Centre’s Chaplain, helped ‘Frank’ with some sanding
According to Prentice, it is a matter of knowing about a person’s life before dementia and that’s where family can help. “We had a gentleman who was a farmer so he was always checking fencing and we couldn’t figure out why he would constantly walk around until we learned that fact and then we knew, it was a natural thing for him to do.”
“It’s a matter of finding what interests them”” adds Prentice. “That’s where our Resident-Led Events and Clubs (REC) programs come into play. Residents form groups with like interests and a shared purpose. For instance, painting or quilt making or doing crafts, can add purpose to their lives and that’s what these programs are all about.”