Caring for Someone with Dementia

Author: Robert Jo

Dementia is a condition that happens in the brain and is often marked by memory loss and confusion. It affects mostly seniors and can make normal tasks difficult to perform as it progresses. The most important thing to do for both the patient and the family is to find the best medical care before the diseases progresses too far. There are therapies that can help slow the progress and aid in the quality of life, keeping the senior as active and independent as possible!

Here are some tips for those who are caring for a senior adult with dementia:

1. Know the three stages of dementia
Early in the disease, most people can still do daily tasks normally and function pretty well. You may notice memory lapses beginning, as that is usually the first tell-tale sign. This can manifest in things like not being able to find a word they are looking for or feeling disoriented in a familiar place. However, they can still socialize with those they love and often still live independently.
In the middle stage, you will notice symptoms becoming more pronounced. This is the stage where living alone will be a struggle and may even be impossible. Taking care of themselves on their own will become difficult and require a caregiver to step in. 

Late-stage dementia is marked by severe cognitive decline and will result in the senior forgetting where they are, unable to go for a short walk without getting lost, and some may even to struggle with physical activities like walking and getting dressed. The right care in this late stage can drastically improve their well-being and happiness.

2. Training in dementia care can make all the difference!
Everyone who suffers from dementia has a unique experience with it. It does not progress at the same rate for everyone. It is important to understand what to look for and how to offer care and support. This will allow you to work with the patient’s doctor to design therapies and activities that will best support their needs. It may be with home-care or perhaps even a family member will become the caregiver. If this is the case, extensive care training will be necessary so that the caregiver gets the support they need too!

3. It’s healthy and helpful to share memories about the past.
Dementia usually causes problems with short-term memory loss. This means that reminiscing about the past is often very helpful and therapeutic, so it should be encouraged. It offers a chance for the senior to feel happy and focus on good times. This can be a better therapy than any medical setting could offer! Never underestimate the power of reminiscing! Ask them to tell you their stories. You will find that they take great comfort and delight in it.

4. Understand that dementia is more than memory loss.
Losing memory is a painful process, but it’s crucial to understand that it’s not the only symptom of dementia. The entire brain is affected by the disease, which affects the entire body. This means that you may see changes in personality or problem-solving skills, along with daily normal tasks. Other symptoms aside from memory loss can include difficulty speaking clearly, inability to track time, not being able to focus and avoiding things that require social activity. It is possible to help all of these areas be better managed, so don’t lose hope!

5. Embrace support!
Caring for a dementia patient can be hard, no matter how much you love them. It is often physically and emotionally draining, so you need to embrace and seek good support. There are many support groups for both the patients and their caregivers, whether this is a family member or not. In some cases, home health care may need to be considered, and even with this option, it’s still important for the family to receive ongoing support so tough days can have the best outcome possible. If a family member is providing care, it is vital that proper rest and breaks are taken to avoid burnout. We can’t stress this enough!

Please contact us today for more tips and information on dementia and Alzheimer’s. You don’t have to go it alone!

Home Helpers of San Ramon is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in San Ramon, Danville, Diablo, Moraga, Pleasanton, Castro Valley, Sunol, and Dublin, California.

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