Dementia is a syndrome that causes a serious loss of cognitive ability, beyond that of normal aging. Symptoms of dementia include:
- Loss of memory
- Loss of judgment and reasoning
- Difficulties with speech and movement
- Changes in mood and behavior
These symptoms may affect a person’s ability to function at work, in social relationships or in day-to-day activities. Sometimes symptoms of dementia can be caused by conditions that may be treatable, such as depression, thyroid disease, infections or drug interactions. If the symptoms are not treatable and progress over time, they may be due to damage to the nerve cells in the brain (Alzheimer Society of Toronto).To learn more about dementia and available resources, visit these web pages:
Alzheimer Society of Toronto - Free Workshops, Counseling and Education
Canadian Coalition for Seniors' Mental Health (CCSMH) - Mental Health Guides for Seniors and their Families
Dementia Crossroads – The Lived Experience Café
Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP) - People Living with Dementia
Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP) - Partners in Care
Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat - A Guide to Programs and Services for Seniors in Ontario
Delirium is sudden severe confusion due to rapid changes in the brain function that occur with physical and/or mental illness. Delirium is not a mental illness; nor is it dementia. It is a medical emergency that is usually reversible if treated.
Visit Vancouver Island Health Authority - Delirium Resources AND/OR This Is Not My Mom to learn more about delirium.
Depression is a true and treatable medical condition that is not a normal part of aging. However, older adults are at an increased risk for experiencing depression.
Visit the following links to learn more about depression, its signs and symptoms, and possible treatment options:
Mood Disorders Society of Canada - Depression in Elderly
CDC - Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older (American Resource)
Compassion Fatigue/ Caregiver Stress
Taking on the role for a family member/friend presenting with responsive behaviours can be challenging and sometimes result in compassion fatigue or “caregiver stress." Remember that your health and well-being are essential.
Visit the following links to learn more:
10 signs of [caregiver] stress from onmemory.ca
Self Care for Caregivers by the Public Health Agency of Canada
Caregiver Toolkit by the British Columbia Psychogeriatric Association
Dementia Crossroads Virtual Lived Experience Café & Discussion Forums
Click here for a list of more resources for you and your family.
The brainXchange is a network of people dedicated to improving quality of life and supports for persons with or at risk of having brain-health needs related to dementia, mental health and neurological conditions related to aging or have experienced brain health changes earlier in life that are now more complex with aging.
brainXchange Resource Centre
brainXchange Caregiver Support and Education
Examples of responsive behaviours with links to supportive videos
Shifting Focus: A Guide to Understanding Dementia Behaviour
The Shifting Focus Guide contains numerous strategies for responsive behaviours. In order to better understand the behaviour’s true meaning, consider using this framework.