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Caring for a person with dementia

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Caring for a loved one with dementia poses many challenges for families and caregivers. People with dementia from conditions such as Alzheimer’s and related diseases have a progressive biological brain disorder that makes it more and more difficult for them to remember things, think clearly, communicate with others, or take care of themselves.  From angry outbursts to more physical manifestations of behavior, understanding and dealing with our loved one’s dementia behaviors may be one of the most stressful parts of being a caregiver.  Dementia involves more than just memory loss. A person with this disorder can be a challenge to take care of.  Caring for a loved one with dementia poses many challenges for families and caregivers.

The cause of the disease can have a bearing on the type of care given. Before embarking on caring for such a patient consider the following questions.

Is the dementia part of a brain disease process?

Is there a history of brain injury?

Is it the so called senile dementia which is considered part of the aging process?

Where to care for the dementia patient

Depending on the severity and predominant symptoms, a person with dementia can benefit from either home care or institutional based care. Where only personal care issues are involved, a general carer may be able to offer  care to the patient. However, where symptoms pose a risk to self and others, then a professional nurse may come in to offer at home care services.

Seven Tips for Communicating with a Person with Dementia

  1. Set a positive mood for interaction. …

  2. Get the person’s attention. …

  3. State your message clearly. …

  4. Ask simple, answerable questions. …

  5. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. …

  6. Break down activities into a series of steps. …

  7. When the going gets tough, distract and redirect. 

Emotional  and Physical support

People with dementia feel anxious when they realize that they have mental related problems. Showing Care, patience and reassuring them will help them to cope better and enjoy improved self-worth. Other measures to help these patients lead a dignified life include:

  • Helping them remain clean
  • Helping them dress
  • Helping them eat a healthful diet
  • Assisting them to remain as physically active as possible. This will be determined by their degree of mental or physical disability.
  • Legal representation and protection.  Some people may take advantage of the altered mental status of dementia patients. Help them get their rightful state support where necessary and protect their finances from potential fraudsters.

When dealing with difficult behaviors from someone with dementia, it’s important to remember that they are not deliberately being difficult. Our loved one’s sense of reality may now be different from ours, but it is still very real to him or her. As caregivers, we can’t change the person with dementia, but we can employ strategies to better accommodate any problem behaviors. Both the environment you create at home and the way you communicate with your loved one can make a significant difference.

Dementia can cause mood swings and even change a person’s personality and behavior. This Fact Sheet provides some practical strategies for dealing with the troubling behavior problems and communication difficulties often encountered when caring for a person with dementia. If you are the main carer of a dementia person, don’t forget to care for yourself. Burnout is a real possibility. To avoid this, always source for help and take needed break every now and then.

Be aware of the signs of dementia

Memory loss is one of the key symptoms, but others include:

  • increasing difficulty with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning
  • depression
  • changes in personality and mood
  • periods of mental confusion
  • difficulty finding the right words

If someone you know is becoming increasingly forgetful, you should encourage them to see their GP to talk about the early signs of dementia.

Finally, there are so many more behavior interventions, treatments and specialty care providers now than ever before. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to one of our qualified advisers.

You can read more top tips for talking about dementia on the UK Alzheimer’s Society website.


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