Connecting care

Connecting care

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you | Contributors: Submitted by VON Nova Scotia | Published: April 1, 2024

By 2050, nearly 30,000 people in Nova Scotia could be living with dementia. This is according to recent findings from the Alzheimer Society of Canada, suggesting that the number of people living with dementia in Nova Scotia is expected to increase by 87 percent from 2020 to 2050.

Behind these alarming statistics are the people who live with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and those who love and care for them. People like Marion and her husband, Roger. Roger was diagnosed with dementia a decade ago, and Marion began the process of navigating through a difficult change in circumstances.

“Friends, family members and even his children didn’t come around much anymore,” she says. “He became more and more withdrawn. His world was suddenly reduced to the four walls of our home.”

Isolation is a significant risk factor for dementia, and it can speed disease progression. Along with the inability to take part in previously enjoyed activities, isolation can cause depression and loneliness, worsening cognitive impairment.

Participating in meaningful activities, making social connections and feeling a sense of purpose can improve mood, wellbeing and quality of life. VON’s Adult Day Program (ADP) is designed to support the physical and mental health of seniors and people living with disabilities, while also providing respite for family caregivers.

Although some participants are initially anxious about attending, many—like Roger—find the program becomes a highlight of their weeks.

“We’re at a point where Roger can’t remember many things, but he always knows when it’s getting close to Tuesday,” Marion says. “The staff quickly realized his desire to be useful. They ask for his help with small tasks like cleaning the whiteboard. He tells me all about it when he gets home, and he is so proud. It’s like attending the program has become his ‘job.’”

Participants have the opportunity to do activities they enjoy—it might be painting, doing a puzzle or joining others to sing at the piano. These simple pleasures are more than just a way to pass the time. Attending an Adult Day Program can boost both physical and mental health. For attendees at risk of dementia, the right programming can even help improve or delay signs and symptoms of its onset.

Supported by the Department of Seniors and Long-term Care, VON has piloted Enhanced Adult Day Programs in Truro and Stellarton, serving participants who require additional assistance with things like medication, toileting, and feeding. The Enhanced ADP is free to participants and gives those who might have previously relied on in-home care the opportunity to get out of the house, meet others and participate in recreational activities.

More than 90 per cent of clients in the Enhanced Adult Day Program require additional care as a result of cognitive issues. The program’s collaborative setting and activities tailored to each unique participant help to improve overall health, reduce physical pain, support mobility, improve mental outlook and reduce feelings of isolation.

VON’s Adult Day Programs also greatly improve the lives of family caregivers of people with dementia, who report devoting more time and experiencing more stress than other caregivers.

A recent survey of caregivers with loved ones in the Enhanced ADP found that all believed respite care increased their ability to provide care effectively. The majority felt a little to a lot less stress. Of clients surveyed, 86 percent felt less isolated and that they had more connection with others.

When Roger attends VON’s ADP, Marion can relax, catch up on housework or visit with friends, knowing her partner is in good hands. “I know I can count on VON,” she says. “I couldn’t imagine what our lives would be like without them. It’s given Roger a purpose. I really believe that without it, he would have withdrawn into himself and quite possibly lost the will to go on.”

VON Nova Scotia is a registered charity that provides home nursing care and community support services across the province. VON is in the midst of a $4-million capital campaign to fund VON Connect, a digital health solution that will help the organization provide more care and services to more Nova Scotians.

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< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

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