The Senior Gems is a classification system using gems to compare the different stages of dementia. The gems are used as a metaphor to define normal aging and the many appearances, behaviour changes, skill sets, and needs of those living with the effects of neurocognitive failure (dementia) or other brain changes.
The Senior Gems is also used to train and prepare our caregivers to properly engage in activities that your loved one at each stage of dementia can do.
- It is normal for older adults to forget where they are?
- When your loved one is sad or down, you should try to ignore those feelings by distracting them with by doing something else?
- As your loved one ages, it’s probably best to keep them in the house or in a chair, so they don’t get hurt?
If you disagreed with all the above congratulations!
The Sapphire gem refers to normal aging like you might think of a car. A new car runs smoothly with almost no maintenance and repair. As time goes on, however, repairs are needed to maintain function.
A time comes when the parts are wearing out more than you can fix and replace them and eventually, some of the parts have less of an ability to function. It doesn’t mean the car doesn’t work, it just means you might have to change what you’re doing.
|Normal Aging||Alzheimer’s and Dementia|
|Continues to be independent in daily activities||Person becomes critically de-pendent on others for key independent living activities|
|May complain of memory loss, but is still able to provide considerable details about incidents of forgetfulness||Will only complain of memory problems if specifically asked|
|Occasional word finding difficulties||Memory problems worsen with time|
|Does not get lost in familiar areas||Frequent word-finding pauses and substitutions|
|Able to operate common appliances||Gets lost in familiar areas|
|Maintains prior level of social skills||Notable decline in memory for recent events|
Diamonds are the first stage of dementia meaning the cognitive changes that are happening are no longer “normal.” A diamond is the gem selected to represent this stage because diamonds are still clear, but they are very rigid.
Although most of us are familiar with Alzheimer’s disease it is actually just one type of dementia. Knowing some of the other types of dementia may help you with caregiving.
|Alzheimer’s Disease||Difficulty remembering names and recent events is often an early symptom. Later symptoms include impaired judgment, disorientation, confusion, behaviour changes and difficulty talking, swallowing, and walking.|
|Vascular Dementia||Impairment is caused by decreased blood flow to parts of the brain, often due to a series of small strokes that block arteries. Symptoms often overlap those of Alzheimer’s, although memory may not be as seriously affected.|
|Dementia with Lewy Bodies||Pattern of decline may be similar to Alzheimer’s, including problems with memory and judgment as well as behaviour changes. Alertness and severity of cognitive symptoms may fluctuate daily. Visual hallucinations, muscle rigidity and tremors are common.|
|Mild Cognitive Impairment||A condition in which a person has problems with memory, language or other essential cognitive function that are severe enough to be noticeable to others and show up on tests, but not severe enough to interfere with daily life.|
|Frontotemporal Dementia||Nerve cells in the front and side regions of the brain are especially affected. Typically symptoms include changes in personality and behaviour and difficulty with language.|