The word dementia often conjures a negative image and an inevitable feeling of decline and discontent with life. Whether you’re someone living with dementia at home, a family member, or a caregiver, that’s true.

At Minute Women Home Care, we aim to dispel this myth by creating and leading the way in dementia care for our clients in homes across the state of Massachusetts.

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to understanding dementia at home. You’ll learn about:

What Are the Risk Factors for Dementia?

Whether you’re a hospital discharge planner or the concerned adult child of an aging relative, it’s important to assess older adults’ risks for dementia. You also need to understand the risk factors as well.

There isn’t a cure for dementia yet, but the truth is that the cure is personalized, responsive care and team coordination. Here are some recently researched risk factors that could lead to dementia later in life:

High Blood Pressure

You can manage blood pressure levels with regular exercise, a low sodium diet, cutting the coffee (and other caffeine), and delegating tasks as much as possible (lowering stress levels is key to blood pressure regulation).

Impaired Hearing

Hearing loss occurs when various risk factors remain untreated. It can quintuple your odds of developing dementia. Assistive hearing devices and hearing aids are a great hand in restoring your ability to experience the world.

Less Education

This factor doesn’t mean that going to college will eliminate your risk. But, a commitment to learning serves the brain for your lifetime. Playing word games, solving puzzles, and participating in activities is a great way to keep your brain fed.


There are now mobile apps and text message programs designed to help you quit smoking no matter your stage of life. Setting up a reward system is also helpful. Instead of spending your extra cash on a pack of cigarettes, consider a movie night at home with the family by taking advantage of Walmart’s $5 movie deals or a Redbox special.


We’ve all learned that fad diets often don’t work. Instead, nutritious meals with robust flavors are always in style (and they work)! Imagine this: a lemon chicken entree with seasoned rice or a zesty pasta salad.


Many meal delivery services have diabetic-friendly food options that make diabetes easier to manage. A well-balanced diet can help maintain your eye and heart health and control your blood sugar levels. How does low-cal New England clam chowder sound?


No one wants to go through life alone. Whether you live alone or with family, you shouldn’t feel lonely. Recent research has shown that isolation is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Tap into your hobbies, like gardening, art, and sports. Remember: there’s no age limit on being you.

You may be thinking to yourself that this list is bad news. But here’s the good news: each of these risk factors is fixable.

In this next section, you’ll learn about the signs of dementia at home and other related conditions.

Dementia care services can restore dignity, function, and happiness.

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What Are the Signs of Dementia?

In dementia care, the saying goes, “When you’ve met one person with dementia, you’ve met one person with dementia.” Certain symptoms are common and often overlap time and time again.

One important thing to remember is that your dementia care journey is unique to you. The care you oversee, give or receive needs to be custom-tailored to your needs.

Some common signs of dementia:

Using unusual words to refer to familiar objects.

We remind our caregivers to refrain from correcting our clients: “Those are not noodles. They’re socks.”

Instead, we use a phrase like: “Yes, I’m happy to hand you your socks. Here you go.”

Depending on what stage of memory disease the client is in, this may remind them of the object without embarrassing them while maintaining dignity.

Taking longer to complete routine tasks.

We encourage caregivers to think outside the box. This issue could include:

  • making the bed or folding the laundry while the client is getting dressed
  • or wiping down the shower while they’re brushing their teeth

This process ensures that the caregiver is right there for the client’s safety if they need assistance. It also prevents the caregiver from “waiting” for them to finish a task or helping when assistance isn’t needed.

Hallucinating or experiencing delusions or paranoia.

Recently, one of our clients was positive that her deceased husband had just been in the house and left with EMTs. She was extremely upset—understandably so—and called frantically for him.

Rather than correcting her, the caregiver told her that she had asked the office team to make some calls. They would get to the bottom of her concerns.

This step helped the client relax enough to get some rest. By the time she got up, she had forgotten about the situation with her husband.

Losing balance and problems with movement.

We are caring for a gentleman who has some balance and mobility issues. There is a wheelchair in his home. Our client and his family prefer him to be walking, so he doesn’t lose that ability.

Our caregiving team uses a gait belt with him when he decides to get up and move around. They are always moving with him so that he has close supervision.

The gait belt enables our team to steady him and provide assistance when he needs it without pulling on his pants or his arms. It also enables us to safely lower him to the floor should his legs give out.

Do any of these indicators stick out to you?

The appearance of these signs is important to bring up in doctor appointments, especially earlier on. Recent research from the UK shows that small indicators and signs may present themselves up to 18 years before a diagnosis.

Learn what to expect from a dementia diagnosis in the next section.

Getting a Diagnosis for Dementia at Home

Quick clarification: dementia is a grouping of similar symptoms, not a diagnosis. The diagnosis is more along the lines of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB), etc.

In this year’s World Alzheimer Report, Alzheimer’s Disease International estimates that 75 percent of people with dementia do not get diagnosed.

Several barriers may keep someone from receiving a diagnosis:

  • Cultural
  • Emotional
  • Financial
  • Physical

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Types of Dementia Diagnosis

If you or someone you know needs a diagnosis, here are some things that you should prepare in advance:

  • At-home cognitive tests: Some are online, such as the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE), and printables like the Montreal Cognitive Test (MOCA).
  • A journal or log of symptoms or experiences that may indicate cognitive decline
  • A discussion on power of attorney, living wills, and advance directives to empower the person you care for and to ensure that their future wishes will be honored.

Primary care physicians can perform cognitive screening tests. They may also refer you to a brain specialist or neurologist who focuses on dementia at home.

The process isn’t just a one-and-done test. It can consist of:

  • Blood tests
  • Looking at a patient’s complete medical history
  • Brain scans
  • Testing balance, spatial recognition, problem-solving, and communication skills

Once a diagnosis happens, you and the person you care for will now have closure. You will also have access to existing symptom management measures and clinical trials. Learn more about the journey ahead in the next section.

The Different Types of Dementia

Did you know that there are more than 400 types of dementia? Each person living with dementia is traveling down a unique path.

Here are some of the most common types of dementia you may hear about:

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

AD is the most common form of dementia. two-thirds of people diagnosed with dementia at home are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Some common signs include: not being able to do more than one muscle movement at a time, mixing up words, and getting lost in familiar surroundings.

Vascular Dementia (VaD)

This type is the second most common form of dementia. What makes Vascular Dementia or VaD different from Alzheimer’s is that it’s the result of multiple strokes, also called Multi-Infarct Dementia. Vascular dementia begins with challenges to judgment and logic. Memory impairment doesn’t occur until the later stages.

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD)

Also known as Dementia with Lewy Bodies, it’s the third most common form of dementia. What makes this type of dementia unique is that it relates to a build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain. Doctors call these protein chunks “Lewy bodies” after the man who discovered them, Dr. Frederich Lewy.

These chunks, in particular, tackle the cerebral cortex like the Patriots linebacker #38, Ja’Whaun Bentley. This part of the brain controls how we process information, think, and move. It can make ordering Dunkin—a simple task—a nightmare.

Some other forms of dementia that you may hear about include:

  • Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD): This is a type of dementia that affects both the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which can alter someone’s personality, behavior, and language skills.
  • Mixed Dementia: This is when you have more than one type of dementia. It’s most likely Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia.
  • Parkinson’s Disease (PD): This is a brain disorder that can lead to uncontrollable shaking, pill-rolling (tremors that make it look like you’re rolling a pill or feel something sticky in your hands), stiffness, and difficulty walking.

Regardless of what form of dementia you see, we’ve prepared a series of tips to help at home.

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Tips for Managing Dementia at Home

80% of older adults want to remain at home as they age. Dementia can complicate this desire, but you’ll have a much easier time navigating the twists and turns thrown your way with these tips and tricks.

Find support sooner rather than later.

We reached out to Debbie Selsavage, the owner and author of Coping with Dementia.

According to Debbie, when caring for a person with dementia, it is important to find support sooner than later. That way, your loved one can adapt and accept other people in their home.

Employing a home health company to build a relationship with your loved one will benefit you as a care partner to get the breaks from one on one care duties, even for a few hours.

This disease will not be easy if you do not ask for help, not because you cannot, but because you want to be there as long as possible and as healthy as possible to care for the needs of your loved one in the journey of dementia.

Thinking of both is the most important thing you can do.

Acknowledge their reality.

Roll with it when the person you’re caring for is traveling through time or incorrectly remembering something that happened. Correcting and being right are less important. Live with your loved one in the present, and your caregiving journey will be a breeze.

Access respite care programs.

Family caregivers need care too.

Whether you’re caring for a loved one and visiting when you can, living with them, getting a break is essential. You can’t provide high-quality care when you’re running on empty. Massachusetts is a part of the ARCH National Respite Network. There are state-funded programs available for you to get the respite you deserve with this network.

Home care agencies are a great supplement to your efforts. Be sure to reach out to a trusted provider—like Minute Women Home Care—in your area before a medical event could make it inevitable.

Warm up the bathroom for bathtime.

It can get cold in the bathroom when your loved one is taking a shower. Turning the temperature up a few degrees before starting also helps to create a relaxing, spa-like experience.

Harness the power of choice.

Dementia may take away a lot of memories and thinking skills from the person you care about, but a lot sticks around. When selecting clothing or picking a place for lunch, give them two options. Too many choices may be overwhelming.

Don’t Go Through Dementia Care Alone

Caregiving is a noble tradition in families, but everyone has limits. Make sure to surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family members, and co-workers with that you can be open and vulnerable around.

We spoke to Katie Brandt, the Director of Caregiver Support Services and Public Relations for the Frontotemporal Disorders Unit of Massachusetts General Hospital, about resources that can help you along the continuum of care for a loved one.

Brandt’s advice model to caregivers is called the Caregiver Trifecta: your medical community, disease community, and home community. If any of these critical components are missing or deficient, this can cause additional stress on caregivers.

“People ask me all the time, ‘how do I find a person?’ How do I get help?'”

There are three key resources in your backyard waiting to help you live better.

Reach out to your local ASAP organization.

ASAP stands for Aging Services Access Points. Here is a link to the Massachusetts page. “ASAP supports people of any age living with dementia and people at or over 60. You can set up free evaluations at home, with a sliding fee scale to ensure adequate access to care resources as ASAP programs have federal funding,” Brandt said.

Try your local Alzheimer’s Association.

“Anyone living with dementia can get free support and services through this organization. This 24/7 hotline operates 365 days a year, and caregivers can call and ask for a list of service providers in their area.” Their number is 800-272-3900.

Utilize professional home health care services.

“Work with experienced professionals with training, licensure, and insurance.” You deserve to have peace of mind in the integrity and professionalism of your loved one’s senior assistance services.

Your At-Home Dementia Care Team Is Just a Call Away

Dementia at home can be a devastating blow to the person living with it and their family and social circle. There is a lot of beauty in dementia as well. Caregivers gain wisdom, live moments, and learn languages. We are all treasure troves of our life experiences.

Dementia care isn’t just about getting through the day. It’s about creating moments of joy. That could mean taking a walk along the Charles River or a game at Fenway. No matter how good memories and joy look to you, your next chapter shouldn’t have to look drastically different from your last.

Whether something happened yesterday or twenty years ago, don’t underestimate the impact that it’ll have on you later in life. Contact Minute Women Home Care when you need a trusted partner to accompany you on this journey.

If you have questions about taking care of a senior in your life, get in touch with us today!

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