Almost one million Canadians are projected to be living with dementia by 2030. In Canada, 50 per cent of people living with dementia are cared for by a family member. This means our system needs to adapt to support quality of life for not only the individuals with dementia but their caregivers as well. In spring 2023, RTOERO welcomed Geriatric Psychiatrist Dr. Sarah Coleman as part of the Vibrant Voices Advocacy webinar series to understand more about dementia and how RTOERO members can advocate for better supports for individuals with dementia and those caring for them.
We’ve included some highlights from Dr. Coleman’s talk below. The entire recording is available for RTOERO members on the RTOERO Learning platform.
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Dementia, also called major neurocognitive disorder, is an umbrella term for different types of dementia. Alzheimer’s is one type of dementia that is most common and is characterized by short-term memory loss first. In this clip, Dr. Sarah Coleman explains some of the different forms of dementia.
When someone has dementia, they experience substantial cognitive decline that interferes with function or independence in at least one of the following areas:
There are a range of behaviours that are common when someone has dementia. They can include becoming easily confused or agitated, making unusual statements or socially inappropriate comments, misplacing objects, or taking others’ belongings.
Dr. Coleman explained that viewing behaviours as a person’s best attempt to respond to a situation and communicate their needs can be helpful. Those caring for someone with dementia need to work to understand the needs rather than trying to control behaviours.
Dr. Coleman may be involved with this kind of assessment as part of a collaborative care approach. Collaborative care means various practitioners and specialists working together to support an individual. Here Dr. Coleman speaks about collaborative care and her role.
When thinking about dementia care or eldercare in general, the focus shouldn’t be on simply creating more long-term care beds to house people. There should be a range of programs and supports that cater to the individual needs of people and their families—and a focus on dignity. Well-thought-out environments can help to reduce troubling psychological and behavioural symptoms of dementia. Dr. Coleman offered some ideas for consideration and exploration.
Watch Dr. Coleman explain these options.
Dr. Coleman offered suggestions for further learning and support:
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