Jen* always calls her dad a master cyclist. “He is 71 and loves his bike rides.” But little did she know how one morning ride would change their lives, forever.
Ross* was going for his usual bike rides when he had an accident and was rushed to hospital. At the hospital, the family discovered that t other factors may have contributed to the accident: Ross was diagnosed with dementia.
The diagnosis was shocking for the family. Surreal. Nobody was expecting this news. “After the diagnosis, we had new challenges added to the things we were already going through,” says Jen. “My dad was losing things around the house, having issues with laundry because the basket is heavy and my dad’s visits to my mother’s retirement home became difficult, with time.”
That is when the family was connected to The Dementia Society’s ADAPT Your Home (Alzheimer’s and Dementia Aging in Place through Technology) program. Jen says the first feeling was a sense of relief. “I said, ‘Oh Good! There’s somebody that we can talk to, and reach out to.’”
Aging Well with Autonomy
With pilot funding and a contribution from the Arbor Memorial Milestone Fund, The Dementia Society launched the ADAPT Your Home pilot program in March 2022 to help people living with dementia age in place. This first-of-its-kind in Canada program supports people living with dementia in their homes so they can continue to live safely in their familiar environment for as long as possible.
The program offers free virtual assessment by the ADAPT Your Home consultant. Participants also receive general and dementia-specific considerations for proactive aging in place and a personalized plan to outline recommendations and resources based on participants’ needs and priorities.
Creating a path to live independently at home
Jen and her dad had their first assessment with the ADAPT Your Home Program Consultant virtually. “I was worried about how my dad would feel about it. But it was great,” says Jen. “She (the consultant) was patient and let my dad tell his whole story. She also asked many good questions. I liked how she said, ‘Let’s find ways that will help you at home safely.'”
Following their meeting, the ADAPT consultant developed a personalized plan for Ross and Jen’s family. They were connected to a transportation service to help Ross visit his wife at her retirement home. “The Dementia Society consultant also helped us to find and manage meal deliveries, grocery shopping and find the right technology for my parent’s home that could help my dad live a little more independently.”
Regular discussions led to effective modifications in Ross’ home and routine. Based on feedback, the family also got Ross a whiteboard and a tile to put his wallet, phone and keys on it. They have installed them in a noticeable location in Ross’ kitchen. “Every Tuesday, I come and check the tile to make sure all the things are in place. Then I change the schedule for the week on the whiteboard so that my dad knows when all his appointments are. We try to keep a steady routine and a predictable schedule as suggested by our ADAPT Consultant.”
Technology for Longevity
Most of us are likely to need assistive technology at some point in our lives, especially as we age. The ADAPT Your Home program has integrated an Age-Tech focus to enable Aging in Place goals. When Jen and her dad needed support to set up the home and personal assistive devices for her dad, The Dementia Society’s ADAPT Your Home liaison was there to help. “She (the liaison) set up a smartwatch and home-device to set reminders and notifications for my dad. Now, he gets notified about dinnertime and taking medicines and has learned to set timers while using the stove, and for other timely activities,” says Jen. “The setup has been really helpful and handy. He uses them all the time and likes them.”
What the Numbers Say
Within seven months of its launch, the program has received 100+ referrals and completed over 65 home assessments. Eighty percent of caregivers reported an increase in their well-being and 100% of clients had increased outcomes in overall home safety.
Since the end of the pilot funding, The Dementia Society has invested its funds to continue providing the ADAPT Your Home service while efforts are made to secure sustainable funding. With a scaled-up program to support a greater client base among the 24,000 living with dementia in our region. The Dementia Society is enhancing ways to further demonstrate how this and other dementia-specific services contribute to healthcare system cost savings as a part of the solution to better healthcare—in the community and at home.
For Jen and her dad, the program has helped to bring life back on track. “Everything is going pretty well,” she says. The father-daughter duo is still connected to The Dementia Society and is working with the ADAPT consultant to address any changing needs. “I would recommend this program to others because it’s a great way to get advice as well as to access the best support.”
If you or someone you know needs support adapting your home due to the impacts of mild cognitive impairment or dementia, today. Our program can help keep you safe and comfortable in the place you know and love best, your own home.
*names changed for privacy.
 Pandemic Perspectives on Aging in Canada in Light of COVID-19: Findings from a National Institute on Aging/Telus Health National Survey. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c2fa7b03917eed9b5a436d8/t/5f85fe24729f041f154f5668/1602616868871/PandemicPerspectives+oct13.pdf
 Dementia in hospitals | CIHI. (2018). Canadian Institute for Health Information. https://www.cihi.ca/en/dementia-in-canada/dementia-across-the-health-system/dementia-in-hospitals