Dementia is a general term that refers to degenerative neurological problems that affect all aspects of a person’s overall mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Although there is no definitive cure for the disease, there are several ways to help dementia patients manage symptoms and live their lives to the fullest.
While dementia is an unpredictable disease, home care has proven to be one of the most useful options for people dealing with its debilitating effects. With the right home care provider, people with dementia can enjoy their day-to-day activities with round-the-clock attention from caregivers, nurses, and social services.
Read on as we cover everything you need to know about dementia, its causes, symptoms, and stages. We’ll also be recommending the best dementia treatment options with this in-depth home care guide for dementia in Singapore.
Causes Of Dementia
There are a handful of factors that can cause dementia, including pre-existing health complications, age, brain health, and genetics. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t a normal part of ageing and the causes may vary from person to person.
Although dementia does not directly cause death, the side effects put patients at risk for infections if they don’t receive the right treatment. There is no way to prevent dementia – instead, the most reliable choice is to lead a healthy lifestyle and maintain an active routine to help the mind and body function at optimal levels. At best, slowing down brain cell degeneration and managing symptoms are the only ways to directly deal with the disease.
Symptoms Of Dementia
People with dementia may experience a spectrum of symptoms and side effects depending on what stage they’re at. Symptoms usually present themselves over the age of 65, but early on-set dementia is possible in someone’s 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s. Here’s a list of warning signs that could indicate your loved one may be experiencing the effects of dementia:
- Sudden memory loss
- Decreased cognitive function
- Lack of comprehension
- Misplacing belongings
- Stiff joints and muscles
- Poor reflexes
- Personality & behavioural changes
- Short attention span
- Sleeping disorders
Types Of Dementia
Since dementia has a broad medical definition, it’s important to distinguish one type from the other during a diagnosis. There are five main variants of this disease, each with their own set of effects and complications:
- Alzheimer’s Disease – This is the most common cause of dementia which occurs through damaged nerve cells in the brain. It affects brain function and behavioural patterns, including memory loss and depression.
- Frontotemporal Dementia – This dementia starts from the frontal area of the brain, affecting speech, personality, and movement as a person ages.
- Vascular Dementia – This is the most common type of dementia in Singapore. It typically occurs after a stroke and is worsened by poor brain health in a patient. The sudden tissue loss causes memory disorders and difficulty in making analytical decisions.
- Dementia With Lewy Bodies – This type of dementia shows symptoms from both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, causing shakes, tremors, stiff joints, insomnia, and delusions.
- Mixed Dementia – If a patient has two or more of the previous types of dementia, it’s considered a mixed diagnosis with multiple problems spread out through the brain and body.
Doctors will look at a patient’s medical history and perform several neurological tests, brain scans, and psychiatric evaluations to confirm which type of dementia a patient has. Once a patient has been diagnosed by doctors, they will provide a clinical dementia rating based on their symptoms to recommend the appropriate treatment.
Stages Of Dementia
Dementia has seven levels of intensity, and determining the stage is crucial to help patients during the early, middle, or late stages of the disease. As the dementia progresses, the brain cells incur more damage and trigger more symptoms to show up over time. That’s why it’s important to catch it early so you can provide the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.
- Stage 1 – The first stage shows no signs of cognitive decline and individuals are still able to function at full capacity.
- Stage 2 – The second stage shows very mild cognitive decline with moments of forgetfulness or clumsiness that are easily overlooked by family and doctors.
- Stage 3 – The third stage reveals mild cognitive decline and people start developing more symptoms such as increased forgetfulness, inability to focus, lack of presence, and lapses in language skills. This stage can last from 2 to 7 years.
- Stage 4 – The fourth stage shows a moderate cognitive decline, and all previous symptoms are worsened by actions that interfere with their emotional, mental, and physical abilities. At this early-stage phase, they can’t be left alone to fend for themselves due to their frequent dementia-related episodes.
- Stage 5 – The fifth level is considered a mid-stage condition, showing more signs of major memory problems, physical dysfunctions, and feeling lost about times, places, and names. This can last for up to 2 years or less depending on the severity and requires consistent attention.
- Stage 6 – The sixth stage is much more serious, presenting severe cognitive decline that can last for up to 3 years. This phase induces anxiety, paranoia, obsessive compulsions, incontinence, and more episodes of forgetfulness. They may also experience difficulties speaking, counting, and handling their emotions.
- Stage 7 – The seventh phase is considered a late-stage condition, with patients no longer able to communicate or exercise their motor skills. At this point, patients require 24/7 care and assistance to do everything from walking, eating, urinating, defecating, dressing up, and taking medication.
A person is typically diagnosed with dementia when he or she has reached stage 4 or later. Earlier stages usually do not show enough symptoms for a dementia diagnosis. That is why a case of stage 4 dementia, despite being in the middle of dementia rating scale numerically, is considered to be “mild dementia” or “early-stage dementia”. Stage 5 and 6 are also known as “moderate dementia” or “mid-stage dementia”, or “middle dementia”. Stage 7 is referred to as “severe dementia”, or “advanced dementia”, or “late-stage dementia”.
Benefits Of Home Treatment For Dementia
Dementia is challenging to deal with for patients, family, and friends, especially during the mid to late stages of the disease. This explains why home care is extremely popular since it provides you and your family direct support from medical experts and professionals while keeping your dementia loved one close by.
A caregiving service can do wonders for you and your loved ones, and there are lots of benefits to hiring experts in the medical field. Here are a few aspects of home care that can help persons with dementia manage their day-to-day activities while minimising safety risks and dementia-induced incidents.
Help Dementia Patients Better Manage Daily Activities
Routine and familiarity are important for dementia patients. Home environment where the persons with dementia has been used to for years makes it easier for them to locate daily items and navigate around. A new environment and new faces around may further confuse and disorientate them. This has been proven in a number of studies, where researchers pointed out that familiar environments could reduce confusion and wandering behaviour in dementia patients.
For family members, caring for a person with dementia at home also allows them to decorate the space to what is preferred by their loved one. This could be of emotional significance for the family.
Help Manage Dementia Symptoms through Palliative Care
Dementia symptoms and therefore dementia care needs vary widely from person to person, through dementia stages, and particularly among seniors with complications caused by old age. Home care is the preferred care option because care can be best tailored to the needs of the person with dementia. Dementia symptoms such as choking, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), difficulty speaking (dysphasia), are best managed with the help of palliative care team – often comprised of doctors, nurses, therapists and other licensed health professionals.
On-Call Home Care When You Need It
Having someone watch over a dementia patient 24/7 is a big responsibility, and a lot of families feel they aren’t equipped with all the right tools to care for their loved ones. However, round-the-clock dementia care is made possible and affordable with available on-call home care services and the application of medical technology in dementia care in Singapore. Healthcare professionals are promptly available to assist dementia patients and their families when medical interventions are required, while family caregivers continue to provide maximum comfort and personal care at home.
End Of Life Planning
A lot of families dealing with dementia patients find themselves grieving over losing connections with loved ones. The disease makes it difficult to reach out, communicate, and spend time with them before conditions gradually worsen. When a patient is undergoing home care, a person with dementia and his or her family have more interaction time and personal space to plan for end of life scenario.
Other Techniques To Pair With Home Care
While home care is an effective way to help dementia patients manage their condition, family members and caregivers may find it challenging to provide holistic healing for the loved one with dementia. Holistic recuperation means caring for the mind and body along with the psychological factors that affect their overall well-being. Aside from palliative care from healthcare professionals, here are several suggestions you and your family can do to improve the quality of life for your loved ones with dementia while they receive care at home.
Adjust How You Talk to and Interact with Your Dementia Loved One
As dementia worsens, the patient’s language ability deteriorates. People with dementia will find it increasingly challenging to communicate and understand what is communicated to them. This can easily escalate into frustration for family members and caregivers, making them start shouting, ‘scolding’, or turning angry at their dementia loved one. The dementia-affected person could feel belittled and resentful as a result.
It is therefore important for family members and caregivers to adjust their communication style when talking to or interacting with your dementia loved one. Using short, simple sentences, communicating with empathy and lots of patience helps both the dementia patient and the family member. However, experts advise against talking and treating a dementia person like a child. In fact, helping people with dementia maintain their dignity and sense of self contributes to improving their quality of life. For more tactics on how to talk to and deal with a person with dementia, check out dementia home care tips shared by Ninkatec professional nurses specialising in dementia care here.
Spend Time With Loved Ones
Helping patients completing daily tasks and keeping them mentally engaged is a vital part of dealing with dementia. With a caregiver or helper, family members sometimes do not feel the need to get involved. However, spending time to help dementia loved ones perform simple tasks can improve bonding and relationships, which is important to the well-being of people with dementia. Examples include being around or showing encouragement to your dementia loved one while he or she is performing the daily task.
Stimulate the Mind of Dementia Loved One with Activities such as Games, Music And Art Therapy
Whether a patient is in the early or middle stages of their condition, a study shows that music and art therapy may be quite effective for dementia patients. Keeping them engaged with activities such as games, baking, cooking, or music and arts allows them to express their feelings and process any negative emotions or frustration. This could also potentially slow down the cognitive deterioration of the brain and help the brain form new connections through the senses. Here are top recommended activities for dementia patients which you can also participate in for additional bonding.
Reach out to Community Support Groups
Dementia makes it incredibly difficult for anyone to socialise and maintain relationships, but community support groups could help fill the void for both patients and caregivers. One thing to take note of is that public settings may cause stress to the patient since people with dementia prefer to be in familiar places. If a patient is receiving home care, the caregiver, patient, and family will benefit from the following online communities and support groups:
- Dementia Friendly Singapore
- O’Joy Care Services
- Samaritans of Singapore
- Alzheimer’s Disease Association Dementia Helpline
The Best Dementia Home Treatment In Singapore
You can find a variety of trustworthy clinics, hospitals, and care centres that accept dementia patients in the early stages. But it’s important to keep in mind that more serious stages are prone to dangerous scenarios, requiring medical supervision for up to 24 hours a day depending on the situation.
To supply the demand for on-call caregivers and licensed health professionals, Ninkatec has curated an extensive range of services to assist patients with dementia and other debilitating illnesses.
Ninkatec Care Plans
As one of the most trusted caregiving companies in Singapore, Ninkatec partners with highly esteemed medical professionals including nurses, caregivers, physicians, therapists, and doctors. Using a balanced combination of modern technological tools and human touch, Ninkatec provides the utmost care to make patients feel loved and understood every step of the way.
Ninkatec has three care plans that cater to different needs depending on the severity of a patient’s condition. Whether they need minimal assistance, regular visits, or intensive care, Ninkatec offers innovative and flexible solutions for everyone.
The ‘Virtual Care’ plan is ideal for patients with mild symptoms of dementia who are still capable of looking after themselves. Ninkatec ensures optimum care by providing customers with 24/7 access to online clinicians for assessments and guidance. For an affordable monthly subscription, patients can experience the ease of use via chat for scheduling check-ups, appointments, and real-time virtual monitoring.
The ‘Close Connect’ plan is a weekly subscription for patients with moderate cases of dementia. This care package includes daily visits from nurses and live monitoring along with an online call centre that’s available for service 24 hours a day. The plan allows caregivers to ask questions from an on-call team of clinical experts so patients can fully benefit from medical advice at any given time.
Right At Home
The ‘Right At Home’ is perfect for patients diagnosed with severe dementia in the later stages. The package utilises special equipment to provide medical supervision and a reliable nurse to monitor vital signs at all times. This service will also include online assistance, monthly doctor’s visits, and more intensive caregiving. It’s a monthly subscription that will save the family lots of money and the patient gets to relax in the comfort of their home.
Choose Ninkatec Home Care
Caring for someone with dementia is a tedious task, but helping them cope is the best gift you can do to help them. The most important factor to consider is giving dementia patients a lot of attention, care, and compassion to ease their suffering in multiple ways.
By hiring a professional caregiving service, you can drastically improve your household’s situation as patients continue to receive treatment. Family members will also feel more hopeful knowing that their loved ones are well-taken care of at every stage of the disease. When you choose Ninkatec, we guarantee that you’ll be giving your loved ones the highest quality health care in Singapore.