The Alzheimer Society of Canada reports that the number of people with dementia is rising. In 2016, there were approximately 564,000 Canadians living with the disease. Thirteen years from now, in 2031, the total amount of cases is estimated to reach 937,000, which is a staggering increase of 66 percent.
Canada just recognized Dementia Awareness Week from May 14 to 18. The cause of dementia is yet unknown (scientists are unsure if dementia causes brain damage or if brain damage is caused by dementia), but as we learn more about the disease, treatment options are changing. Many provinces, including Alberta, are moving away from the use of anti-psychotics to manage symptoms, and B.C. is set to open Canada’s first communal care centre next year. Dubbed “The Village,” the centre will be set up like an average community, with homes and a public building, and will allow for dementia sufferers to live in an open, safe and caring environment.
Treatment for dementia is becoming far more humane and holistic. If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, you know that getting lots of rest and carrying out the days with a regular schedule can be very helpful for those living with the disease. A dementia weighted blanket may be a good choice to help enable consistent sleep patterns. Like a warm hug, a weighted blanket provides a deep pressure touch that calms bodies and reduces anxiety. Ashly, a Hippo Hug client who is an occupational therapist working with seniors in Edmonton, reports that the use of weighted products has benefited three of her clients in this testimonial.
What is dementia?
The word “dementia” is actually an umbrella term referring to a number of different brain disorders. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s, accounting for about 50 to 70% of all cases. All forms of dementia result in a cognitive decline including symptoms such as memory loss, difficulty communicating, problems reasoning, disorganization, loss of coordination, confusion and disorientation. Psychological changes include depression, anxiety, paranoia, agitation and hallucinations.
Changes in sleep patterns
Difficulties with sleeping are extremely common for dementia sufferers. Some may be restless at night, waking up often. Others may experience a kind of opposite effect, where they are most tired during the day. Either way, problems with sleeping can be very disruptive for caregivers. Sleep medications are not generally helpful, and are not recommended because of their ability to increase the chance of a fall.
Weighted blankets have been shown to be beneficial for insomnia, bi-polar disorder, brain injuries and restless legs syndrome, all of which present themselves to some degree in dementia sufferers. A dementia weighted blanket can help a sufferer feel more in control and comfortable, which will lead to better rest overall.
How a dementia weighted blanket can help
Hippo Hug weighted blankets are made with a unique and proprietary weighting system involving specially designed disks. The average weighted blanket uses pellets to create weight, making them bulky and difficult to clean, and often spill or leak. Hippo Hug weighted blankets are carefully handmade to be as durable as possible, are not overly bulky, and can be spot-cleaned. Fabrics come in cotton, cuddle, organic cotton, flannel, and liquid resistant, and there are hundreds of different patterns to choose from. You can design your weighted blanket to match any room in your house.
Dementia is often associated with confusion, agitation, stress, and mood swings. Sometimes joint stiffness and tremors also present themselves. The weight provided by a Hippo Hug stimulates deep pressure receptors in the body, which causes the release of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that regulates mood, memory, and sleep.
Those with dementia may also benefit from the use of a Hippo Sit Weighted Lap Pad. We specially designed these lap pads to ease fidgeting. They can come with a pocket, which is wonderful for those who perpetually have cold hands.
How to choose your weighted blanket
Choosing your weighted blanket is personal, and we are here to help. We recommend a maximum weight of 15% of the person’s total body weight, and for dementia sufferers this may be best. Here is a convenient chart to assist you determining the ideal weight and size of your blanket. There are ways you can test what will work for you or your loved one before ordering as well. We will happily lend you blankets to test, or you could weigh and pile up several blankets at once to discover the ultimate weight for you. Contact us at any time with your questions or concerns. We are here to help achieve the best night’s sleep possible.