What is Dementia?

The doctor says my mom has dementia. Does that mean she doesn’t have Alzheimer’s disease?

Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. There are many forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Doctors will often use the broad term dementia until they have conducted specific diagnostic tests to determine the cause.

Why does my dad with dementia not know who I am sometimes?

My dad who has dementia knows me most days, but sometimes when he sees me he thinks I am his brother and calls me by my uncle’s name. Why does he do this?

People with dementia often revert back to their long term memory for comfort and familiarity. In his eyes, you no longer look like the kid of your former years but resemble his brother in later years. This is a very common delusion of dementia.

My dad won’t go to an adult day center, what should I do?

We know dad will benefit from an adult day program but he says all those people are too old (dad is 85!). How do we get dad to go?

There are several options depending on your father’s interests. For example, one gentleman who used to be a grocer came each day as a “volunteer” to work in our ice cream parlor. We gave him an apron and a name badge which stated “Volunteer” and he welcomed everyone to the ice cream parlor. It was a great source of socialization and enjoyment for him. Another gentleman was told by his physician exercise would help his arthritis so he came three times a week for his “exercise” classes, wearing tennis shoes and a jogging outfit each day!

Why is there a loss of interest in normal activities when a person has dementia?

I take my dad to my children’s soccer games and he doesn’t seem to enjoy them. He wants to leave after 20 minutes. He loved soccer. Why isn’t he interested?

Your dad loved soccer when he either played or knew the players. He probably doesn’t know the children playing. He may be wondering why he is at a game and doesn’t know anyone. Next time he is at a game, ask your dad where he played soccer. What position did he play? What was the name of his team? By taking your dad to pleasant memories where he feels safe, he may be able to better enjoy the game and feel a part of it.

What do I do when a nursing home is the only option for my mother who needs memory care?

I know it is unsafe for my grandma to remain in her home. However, I promised her I would never place her in a nursing home. What do I do?

You promised your grandma when she was healthy and secure in her home. Now the situation has changed. She is at a higher risk for depression living alone and risks poor nutrition without supervision. Your grandmother’s memories of a nursing home are probably from the ‘60’s and ‘70’s when nursing homes were somewhat undesirable. Now facilities such as Garden View Care Centers offer lively entertainment, Wi-Fi service, outings to the Fox and much more. Residents at Garden View choose their meals from menus and have visitors frequently while having 24 hour nursing care. You will probably see an increase in her socialization and appetite once your grandmother becomes acclimated to her fun, new, secure neighborhood.

Dementia and memory care for seniors at Garden View Care Centers

Dementia Care is becoming an area that is receiving more focus as the number of aging population increases. The word dementia covers a number of different symptoms that may include things such as memory loss, problem-solving and remembering language. The changes often take place gradually over time and can have a significant impact on a senior’s everyday life. We introduced our dementia program and memory care philosophies ten years ago when it became more apparent that seniors in our care benefitted from an organizational positive approach to memory care. We trained staff on the different causes, manifestations, and behaviors associated with dementia. We also taught our staff how to redirect residents with more challenging behaviors in a positive and constructive way. Caregivers are encouraged to become conscious dementia and memory care partners for our residents, entering into the residents’ reality rather than forcing the residents into ours. We didn’t change their behavior to fit our needs – we had to change to fit theirs! Since that time our reputation in the field of dementia care has grown and we are recognized by medical professionals in the local behavioral and geriatric communities as a nursing home who not only takes care of residents with dementia but helps them to thrive in a supportive environment. A person with dementia requires more care and support as their symptoms get worse over time and many dementia sufferers move into care homes that can better meet their needs. If you have been helping someone live independently with dementia or are taking care of someone with dementia this can be a hard decision to make.

It is important to remember that there can be many positive aspects to moving into a care home.

These include:

  • 24-hour support from care and nursing staff
  • Knowing that the person with dementia is in a safe place
  • Activities that are social and involve other residents
  • Medical staff on hand to address the different stages of cognitive decline
  • Regular care plan reviews that involve both staff and family members
  • Memory care living spaces that are designed specifically for residents who need a more protected and supervised environment

Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain. Source

Some of the more common ones are listed below.

Alzheimer’s disease

This is by far the most common cause of dementia and accounts for about 50 to 70% of all dementia cases. This is as a result of chemical connections between brain cells being lost or dying over time.
An early indication of Alzheimer’s disease is problems with day-to-day memory and making everyday decisions. Source

Vascular Dementia

This is caused by the oxygen supply to the brain being reduced because of a narrowing of blood cells. Symptoms for vascular dementia can occur suddenly following a large stroke or through a series of smaller strokes.
Symptoms may be similar to those above for Alzheimer’s disease, including general confusion or disorientation. This is sometimes also known as mixed dementia.

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD)

This type of dementia involves tiny abnormal structures developing inside brain cells. These are known as Lewy bodies.
Early symptoms include fluctuating alertness, spatial awareness, and judging distances.

Frontotemporal Dementia

This is caused by the front inside parts of the brain becoming damaged over time when clumps of abnormal proteins form inside nerve cells causing them to die.

By getting to know our residents and encouraging family members familiar with memory care issues to stay involved in their loved one’s care we provide a dementia-friendly environment. Garden View Care centers have one aim – to help individuals living in our homes live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives, no matter what their capabilities. With our long track record in providing excellent memory care, we have partnered with The Alzheimer’s Association for certified staff training to ensure our dementia care is consistent, effective and grounded in the latest academic research.

Together with the caring and empathetic nature of our teams and it is little wonder we are the care provider of choice for more St Louis residents and their families. We pride ourselves in taking the time to understand the seniors we support and care for, learn their life story and meet their family and friends so that we can understand how best to meet their needs and improve their quality of life.

Contact one of our 3 convenient locations for more information:

O’ Fallon Memory Care at Garden View Care Center
700 Garden Path
O’Fallon, MO 63366
P: (636) 240-2840

Chesterfield Memory Care at Garden View Care Center
1025 Chesterfield Pointe Parkway 
Chesterfield, MO 63017
P: (636) 537-3333

Dougherty Ferry Memory Care at Garden View Care Center
13612 Big Bend Road
St Louis, MO 63088
P: (636) 861-0500