Manor Moments

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

June 2024
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month
By Jocelyn Shaffer, RN, CTRS, CDP; Director of Resident Services, Cornwall Manor

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, their impact on individuals and families and the ongoing efforts to prevent and treat these conditions.

  • Cornwall Manor works diligently to provide residents with the education and resources needed to support those living with dementia and their loved ones.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a broad term for a decline in cognitive function severe enough to interfere with daily life. It’s not a specific disease but a collection of symptoms that can result from various diseases and conditions. The most common types of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia. Over 50 million people globally are living with dementia, and this number is expected to triple by 2050 (World Health Organization, 2020).

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors

Non-modifiable risk factors of dementia include age, genetics, and family history. The risk of dementia increases significantly with age and those with a family history of dementia are at a higher risk (Livingston et al., 2020).

Things You Can Do to Reduce the Risk of Dementia

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent dementia, the following strategies can help lower your risk: Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, stay mentally active, stay socially connected, manage your chronic health conditions and avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.

  • A variety of healthy food choices are offered at Cornwall Manor’s Dining Room & Café. Fresh farm produce from our Trailside Organic Farm is incorporated in meals for residents to enjoy.
  • Cornwall Manor’s Wellness Center and Recreation and Fitness programming encourages residents to exercise daily to maintain and improve their overall level of function.

Early Signs of Dementia

Early signs of dementia can vary depending on the type of dementia and the individual, but common early symptoms may include: Memory loss, difficulty finding words, confusion, changes in mood or behavior, loss of initiative, difficulty with familiar tasks, poor judgment, misplacing items and changes in personality.

Dementia Screening and Diagnosis

Your Physician can assist you in determining if you or a loved one has or is at risk for developing dementia. Physicians employ a comprehensive approach to screen for and diagnose dementia, utilizing clinical assessment, cognitive testing, medical history review, and sometimes imaging or laboratory tests. This systematic process aims to identify cognitive impairment, determine its underlying cause and distinguish dementia from other conditions that may present with similar symptoms. Early diagnosis allows for timely intervention, symptom management, and support for patients and caregivers, ultimately improving outcomes and quality of life.

  • To obtain a dementia screening or medical treatment, schedule an appointment with your Physician at Cornwall Manor’s Wellness Office by calling 717-675-1565.
  • Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy services are available at Cornwall Manor. Ask your Physician if therapy services would benefit you.

How to Support Those Who Live with Dementia

  • Be Compassionate: Dementia is a progressive brain disease that affects individuals’ memory, thinking, and behavior. Compassion and understanding are essential when interacting with someone who has dementia. Their world may be confusing and showing empathy and support can make a significant difference in their quality of life (Alzheimer’s Society, 2023).
  • Meet Their Physical Needs: If a person with dementia appears restless or upset, first determine if all of their physical needs are met. Are they hungry, thirsty, tired, or uncomfortable?
  • Respond to Emotional Needs: Instead of dismissing expressions of fear or confusion, validate their emotions. For example, if they express anxiety about being lost, acknowledge their feelings and provide emotional support. When they ask for deceased loved ones, they may need reassurance and connection. When they ask to go home, they may be seeking comfort and security rather than a physical location.  After validating their feelings, you can attempt to redirect their attention to a different topic or activity that may help them feel more at ease.
  • Engage in Their Reality: A person living with dementia may not be able to remember or understand new or forgotten information. Hearing certain truths can be distressing and upsetting for a person with dementia, causing them to relive painful memories and harsh realities over and over again. Instead of insisting on your reality, instead join their world. For instance, if they believe it’s a different time period, engage in conversations or activities related to that period to foster connection and reduce distress.
  • Involve them in Meaningful Activities to Promote a Purposeful Life: Providing individuals with dementia meaningful activities can enhance their sense of purpose and well-being. Activities should be tailored to their specific interests and abilities. Some ideas include arts and crafts, music therapy, physical activities and reminiscing.
  • Therapeutic and purposeful activities are provided at all levels of care at Cornwall Manor.

Caregiver Burnout and Support

Caregivers of individuals with dementia face significant challenges and are at high risk for burnout. Approximately 40% of dementia caregivers report high levels of emotional stress (Alzheimer’s Association, 2023). Caregivers are more likely to experience chronic health conditions, depression and financial strain (Pinquart & Sörensen, 2003). Caregiver support may include:

  • Respite Care: Temporary relief for caregivers through in-home care, adult day care or short-term nursing home care (Gaugler et al., 2003).
    • Cornwall Manor’s Social Services Coordinator can be contacted at 717-675-1687 to discuss and obtain in-home care services or home health.
    • Cornwall Manor’s Health Center is equipped to provide short-term respite stays for individuals with dementia. The Health Center Admissions Coordinator can be contacted at 717-675-1554 for more information.
  • Long-term Care: Meeting the complex physical and psychosocial needs of a person living with dementia may, and likely will, become more than one person can provide. Long-term care in a nursing home, personal care, or receiving round-the-clock  home healthcare may be required to meet these needs and ensure quality of life for both the caregiver and the person living with dementia.
    • Cornwall Manor’s Health Center and Corson, Personal Care, is available to residents who need higher levels of care. Contact the Health Center and Personal Care Admissions Coordinator at 717-675-1554 for more information. Obtaining Home Health Services can be discussed with Cornwall Manor’s Social Services Coordinator at 717-675-1687.
  • Support Groups: Connecting with others who are in similar situations can provide emotional support and practical advice (Alzheimer’s Association, 2023).
    • Cornwall Manor has a monthly Caregiver Support Group and a Grief Share Support Group. Contact the Chaplains at 717-675-1524 for more information.
    • Other community support groups include: A Parkinson’s Support Group, Dementia Support Group and Memory Café. More information about these groups can be found in Cornwall Manor’s Neighborhood News.
  • Professional Help: Counseling and therapy can help caregivers manage stress and develop coping strategies (Sorensen et al., 2002).
    • Contact Cornwall Manor’s Social Services Coordinator at 717-675-1687, Chaplains at 717-675-1524, or the Wellness Office to schedule an appointment with your Physician at 717-675-1565 to discuss counseling and therapy services available in our community or electronically.

By raising awareness and supporting both those with dementia, caregivers, family and friends we can work towards a more compassionate and informed community.



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