Every year, 25,000 Canadians are diagnosed with dementia. Dementia is a group of symptoms relating to memory and other cognitive functions. Alzheimer’s is the most well-known cause of dementia, but other diseases can cause it, too.
If your loved one has been showing any of the 10 early signs of dementia, you may be wondering if any advances are being made in caring for dementia patients. Here are some of the recent advances in disease management.
New Drugs for Disease Management
Currently available Alzheimer’s medications treat the symptoms of the disease, but there’s no cure available yet. Researchers around the world are trying to create drugs that stop or slow the progression of the disease.
While many researchers believe a combination of drug treatments will be the most effective, many drugs are currently in the research stages. It takes a long time for new drugs to be developed since they need to succeed in both small studies and large-scale trials.
One of the biggest obstacles for creating new medications is a lack of volunteers for clinical trials. Patients who participate in clinical trials get the opportunity to test new medications before they’re publicly available. If your loved one is interested in participating in a clinical trial, you can use Health Canada’s Clinical Trials Database to find one.
Caring for Dementia Patients with Technology
Technological advances have made caring for dementia patients easier than it used to be. Now, there are many types of technology that people with dementia and their families can use to manage the disease.
For example, digital clocks that are specially designed for dementia patients are now available. These clocks display the month, year, and day in addition to the time. These clocks can help your loved one keep track of what day it is. For people in the early stages of dementia, this technology can help reduce anxiety.
GPS tracking devices are another exciting advancement for people who are caring for dementia patients. You can attach these devices to your loved one. If your loved one leaves a certain area (like their home or neighbourhood), you’ll get an alert. This technology makes it easier for loved ones or first responders to find people with dementia.
New technology can even monitor your loved ones’ use of electrical appliances. If commonly used appliances, like the stove, haven’t been turned on or off, you’ll get an alert. This lets you know if you should go check on your loved one in-between regular visits.
Caregiving Strategies for Disease Management
Being a family caregiver is never easy, but it’s much harder when you’re caring for someone with dementia. Caregivers of people with dementia are twice as likely to have serious emotional or financial problems. If you’re feeling very stressed from caring for your loved one, or if your finances have taken a serious hit, you’re not alone. There’s now more awareness of the issues that family caregivers face, and an understanding that they need professional help to care for their loved ones.
Professional dementia caregivers can help reduce the stress you’re feeling. They can create a customized dementia care plan for your loved one to ensure good disease management. Caregivers take some of the stress off you. They give you time to focus on your children, career, and all your other responsibilities.
Professional caregiving has changed in recent years. One of the recent disease management advances is the Senior Gems program. This program is only a few years old. It teaches caregivers to care for people with dementia through each stage of the condition. This program makes it easier for caregivers to understand the progression of dementia symptoms.