Optima Living TV Episode 12: Dementia A Human Experience

Dementia: A Human Experience

Dementia is a broad term used for a wide range of memory concerns and is caused by numerous medical conditions associated with changes in the brain. The impact varies from slight differences to significant and can lead to impaired memory, changes in thought, mood, and emotions, and a diminished ability to problem solve.  

Recently, we released the next instalment of our Optima Living TV series: Dementia: A Human Experience. Following on the groundwork laid by the previous episode, Navigate Memory Loss with Care & Confidence, we continue down the path to understanding dementia better by learning from those with firsthand experience. 

Our person-centred approach to Memory Care has led us to calling what we do to support and care for people our Memory Living program. There is much to learn in the episode, with experts in the Memory Living field such as Dr. Adrian Wagg (Alberta Health Services Chair in Healthy Ageing) and Allison Schindler (Optima Living’s Regional Director, Memory Living, Lifestyles & Programs). They explore what are the real-life effects of dementia—not just on those living with it, but also their family members? What does it mean to experience and care for dementia within the caring community of an Optima Living Memory Living Neighbourhood?

When talking about dementia it is important to understand the difference between what is “normal” and “abnormal” ageing. As we age, it’s perfectly natural for us to occasionally forget to make a regular monthly bill payment or be slower to recall common words. But when a senior asks the same question repeatedly or gets lost in a place they’re intimately familiar with, that raises a red flag that there may be a problem that is indicative of “abnormal” ageing—potentially the early stages of dementia.

“A lot of the skill [of understanding dementia] is in deciding whether the memory loss experienced by an individual is the same as everybody else or is diverging.”

- Dr. Adrian Wagg

There is a great benefit to people who need memory care in being in a Memory Living community. It is a common misconception that continuing to live at home while memory issues develop will lead to a better quality of life. It’s true that a sense of routine—which life at home can certainly provide—is beneficial to those living with dementia; but Memory Living communities seek to learn about the individual and replicate their daily routine, so the moving and transition are not difficult to deal with—particularly at the earliest stages of memory loss. Such person-centred care, combined with the assurance of 24-hour attention and emergency response, brain-stimulating activities, and the active removal of stress, means that Memory Living Neighbourhoods are the safest, most beneficial places for those living with dementia to be. 

The benefit of having a community involved in caring for your loved one cannot be understated. It takes a lot of knowledge, understanding, patience, and empathy to support someone experiencing dementia. Having the support you need to support is also important.   

 “As soon as I saw it, I said ‘I never knew a place like this existed.’”

- Gail, family member of a current Everitt Gardens Memory Living resident

There is so much more to learn about Memory Living, and how it is the best resource for those living with memory concerns and their families. Optima Living seeks to serve as an educational resource as well as a service provider. Visit our YouTube channel to watch Dementia: A Human Experience, and don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss an insightful episode!