What is Dementia?

Everyone has a relationship with their environment. Each day we move about in space and time, relating to people, objects and places of meaning. Much of how we think about ourselves is reflected in our environment. Environments of our daily lives give us resources for presenting ourselves to the world around us.


It is the same for people with dementia. Even if their perception of time and space has changed, they live in a world where relationships, objects and situations matter. People with dementia may not be able to speak about the meaning environments have, but a sense of meaning and importance remains in their lives.


What is the experience of dementia?

Dementia describes different characteristics around changes in the brain or cognitive capability. Most obvious is impairment of memory. Of many usually progressive and permanent dementias, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.


For people with dementia, their physical and social environments become more and more difficult with changes in cognitive capability. Dementia changes very much how people interpret what they see, hear, taste, feel and smell.


It impairs our memories:

We can forget where we put things.

We can forget what we have been doing even recently.

We can forget people’s names, even people close to us.

We can forget we have done something and so repeat doing or saying things.

Our strongest memories may be for events from the past.


It impairs our reasoning:

We can find abstract notions like money and value confusing.

We can find the results of actions hard to predict.

We can misunderstand the pattern on the floor.

It impairs our ability to learn:

We can find new places disorienting.

We can have difficulty getting used to unfamiliar objects or routines.

We forget where basic things like the toilet are.


It raises our levels of stress:

We can find large groups difficult.

We can become anxious in situations we coped well in before.

Too much noise makes us confused.


It makes us very sensitive to built and social environments:

We can be very sensitive to the emotional atmosphere.

We benefit from calmness.

We need good lighting to give us as much information as possible about our surroundings.


It makes us more and more dependent on all our senses:

We may need to be able to smell, feel and see things.

We can get agitated if we get too hot.

We can get confused if there is not enough light.

When Living at home is no longer an option


When Living at home is no longer an option

There may come a time when the person with Alzheimer's disease or dementia will need more care than can be provided at home. During the middle stages of Alzheimer's, it becomes necessary to provide 24-hour supervision to keep the person with dementia safe. As the disease progresses into the late-stages, round-the-clock care requirements become more intensive.


Making the decision to move into a residential care facility may be very difficult, but it is not always possible to continue providing the level of care needed at home.


The questions below may helpful when determining if a move to residential care a good option:

Is the person with dementia becoming unsafe in their current home?

Is the health of the person with dementia or my health as a caregiver at risk?

Are the person's care needs beyond my physical abilities?

Am I becoming a stressed, irritable and impatient caregiver?

Am I neglecting work responsibilities, my family and myself?

Would the structure and social interaction at a care facility benefit the person with dementia?


Even if you planned ahead with the person for a move, making this transition can be a stressful experience. You may feel guilty and wonder if you are doing the right thing. These feelings are are common. Families that have been through the process tell us that it is best to gather information and move forward. Keep in mind, that regardless of where the care takes place, the decision is about making sure the person receives the care needed.


      Our Dementia Care at Desert Cottages guarantees

  • Closed living area with single and double rooms lovingly furnished
  • Individual furnishings of personal rooms for a familiar feeling
  • Handicap accessible bathrooms and toilets
  • Access to continuous and confidential care by our trained staff
  • Inclusion of family members according to personal needs and wishes
  • Friendly day rooms for social activities
  • Generous walks and a garden just for our dementia patients to accommodate their increased drive to move about.


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