As we continue to seek professionals interested in working with dementia clients, we are faced with a question that few people are talking about.  How does dementia affect those around the person?

Dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s, is a progressive disease that will affect everyone involved with the person diagnosed.  Often the illness robs the person from being a person and throws them and their families into social isolation, leading to many other destructive effects.

As families begin to identify concerns or symptoms of dementia, these concerns usually occur well before any diagnosis.  The hope is that families would seek professional advice earlier rather than later so that they may develop a program or routine to assist the family member in advancing their involvement in social and family activities – ultimately working at improving their quality of life and maintaining their Activities of Daily Living (ADL).

The diagnosis process however is often a frightening one for the individual as well as the family.

Individuals may:

  • Be embarrassed
  • Be scared and confused as to what is happening
  • Be holding back or hiding certain symptoms
  • Begin to be more isolated or less involved
  • Begin to show other health concerns not realizing they may be related
  • Choose NOT to see a Doctor for fear of the results
  • Present negative behaviour or insist nothing is happening
  • Feel they are too young for a Dementia diagnosis…and more

The Diagnosis process itself is not just a MMSE (Mini Mental State Exam) and a check up, rather it is a combination of cognitive testing, physical examination, review of medical history, ruling out of other possibilities and perhaps most importantly understanding the person’s history and input from family and friends.  Many medical professionals may be reluctant to offer a diagnosis because of the complexity to a diagnosis, while the public are quick to attach a name to the problem.  I.E. ‘She’s got Dementia’.

As families begin to seek answers to what they are witnessing, they are also in a state of unknown, concern, confusion, isolation and fear…
Fear of:

  • What’s to come
  • How will this change our lives
  • Who will offer care
  • Frustration
  • Cost associated in caring
  • How others will view, stigmatize or offer prejudice towards the family and their loved one

It is very important for families to understand that if they ALL can come together, learn, participate and offer assistance, they will affect the individual in such a positive way.  Fighting off isolation is a powerful method to cope with the dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  Although we are quick to ask for a cure, search for symptoms or stereotype the illnesses, families must remember that as the medical community works on deciphering the symptoms, causes and possible cures, each person experiencing dementia will experience it in unique ways – as unique as the individual.

So, what can families do?

  • Participate don’t isolate
  • Seek professional advice both for the person and the family
  • Educate yourself
  • Don’t forget the person
  • Seek assistance options BEFORE a crisis hits
  • Be flexible, understanding, non-confrontational
  • And be sure to maintain your health and ability to care

Pivotal Aging Innovations Inc., in association with the Canadian Seniors Association and the Alzheimer’s Innovation Institute offers Canadian families coping with Dementia and Alzheimer’s an opportunity to participate with their loved one through the Ashby Memory Method™ – A cognitive retention therapy program designed for families and professional care providers.

Caring for a family member struggling with Alzheimer’s and Dementia offers little resources to turn to before acknowledging help is needed. Offering a home based introduction and intellectual exercise program allows families to improve their management and understanding until such time that additional assistance may be required. Continually seeking current information and techniques adds to our goal of offering improved quality of life for both the Caregiver and patient or loved one.

What is The Ashby Memory Method™:  

The Ashby Memory Method™ is a cognitive retention therapy for sufferers of dementia, based on Dr. Ashby’s original research with brain injuries. AMM is a specifically tailored quality of life enrichment program for persons diagnosed with early to mid stages of Alzheimer’s and other Dementias. AMM is a paper based, non invasive, people centred program combining caregivers understanding and participation, word exercises, visual stimulation and a process called errorless learning and many other techniques from Dr. Ashby’s research. AMM creates personalized activities based on the participant’s interests to stimulate all 5 senses within a one on one environment and seeks to re-discover the person.

We can’t cure it but we can empower those facing it.

For more information about The Ashby Memory Method™ or to become a certified deliverer of the program visit/contact us at www.DementiaTherapy.ca

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