Dementia is a term used to describe a set of symptoms caused by disorders affecting the brain.
Dementia is progressive, meaning the symptoms get worse as more brain cells become damaged and eventually die. These symptoms are severe enough to affect a person’s ability to perform everyday activities and may include:
- memory loss;
- difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language; or
- changes in mood or behaviour.
People with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, along with their families, have access to a number of services delivered through the Saskatchewan Health Authority, its affiliated agencies and other community-based organizations.
Services in Saskatchewan
Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan
- provides support, education and referral services;
- funds Alzheimer research;
- raises awareness about the disease and ways to maintain a healthy brain; and
- advocates for people living with dementia and their families.
The Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan receives funding from the Government of Saskatchewan for its First Link program. First Link is a referral program that allows physicians, health providers and other community service providers to directly refer people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their families to the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan for services and support at the time of diagnosis and throughout the duration of the disease.
First Link Resource Centers are currently located in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, North Battleford, Swift Current and Weyburn. The office in Regina also supports communities that do not have a resource centre.
Rural and Remote Memory Clinic
The Rural and Remote Memory Clinic provides diagnosis and management of atypical and complex cases of suspected dementia where an interdisciplinary team assessment is most needed. The clinic streamlines assessment and diagnosis in order to reduce travel and to shorten the time to diagnosis by coordinating an interdisciplinary assessment on one day.
Dementia Assessment Units
Dementia Assessment Units (DAUs) assist in assessing the needs of clients and residents who have challenges that cannot be managed in the community or in long-term care. The goal of a DAU is to stabilize these residents and develop a care plan in order to better manage their care in their home community.
There are two DAUs in Saskatchewan. The DAU in Regina serves the southern part of the province while the DAU in Saskatoon supports the central and northern regions. At both locations, resource teams provide outreach support, assist in the admission approval process and provide transitional support for clients who are admitted to the unit and then discharged back to their home environment.
There is no charge to access these programs. Long-term care residents referred to the DAU continue to pay the monthly resident charge at their home facility and their room is held for their return.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority receives funding to support geriatric services for seniors living in special care homes and in the community. Services are provided by a range of health care providers, including physicians, geriatricians, nurses, nurse practitioners, home care services, occupational and physical therapists, etc.
Dementia Care in Long-term Care
Special-care Homes offer a number of preventative programs and services to keep residents safe, including:
- wander control systems;
- staff who practice care models such as P.I.E.C.E.S. and Gentle Persuasive Approaches to manage challenging behaviours;
- protocols to ensure residents are cared for safely and appropriately; and
- quality improvement initiatives to reduce falls and reduce inappropriate use of pharmaceuticals.
Saskatchewan Aids to Independent Living (SAIL)
SAIL provides assistance to people with physical disabilities to live a more active and independent lifestyle. This may include free loan of mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers, hospital beds, commodes and transfer assists.
Under the Seniors Drug Plan, eligible seniors 65 years or older pay $25 per prescription for drugs listed on the Saskatchewan Formulary and those approved under Exception Drug Status. Seniors with Special Support coverage will pay the lesser of the Special Support co-payment or the $25 per prescription.