Dementia usually refers to a cognitive/mental decline that interferes with a person’s daily activities and prevents them from leading a normal life. Dementia is not just a particular disease but in fact covers a wide array of symptoms such as impaired memory, communication, and thinking. Millions of individuals in the United States have various forms of dementia.
There are medications that may help people suffering from dementia extend their independence and ease the burden on caretakers. But these drugs cannot eliminate the disease; they slow the development of symptoms.
It is common for people suffering from dementia to exhibit personality changes including agitation, delusions, and aggression. This can be one of the most difficult aspects of caring for someone with dementia – witnessing them change from the person you once knew. Here are some practical tips if you are caring for someone with dementia. For more resources, visit the National Institute on Aging (https://www.nia.nih.gov/about) or join a local support group.
- Face the person. Before asking a person suffering from dementia to carry out a certain task, it is important to address the person and let them know you are talking to them.
- Praise their effort. It is helpful to speak to someone with dementia in a soft tone and to praise even the slightest bit of effort shown. This serves as positive reinforcement and can aid both of you in carrying out a task.
- Answer their questions. People suffering from dementia due to their loss of memory may end up asking the same questions over and over again. (For example, what time is it? Alternatively, what color is that?) It can be annoying to repeat yourself, but do try to mask your frustration.
- Use names. Every time a person suffering from dementia is approached, it is important to call them by their name and to introduce yourself by your name as well, even if you have know each other for a long time. This will minimize confusion for the person suffering from dementia.
- Do not argue. It can be normal for people suffering from dementia to act stubborn and refuse to carry out everyday tasks. Avoid arguing with them. This is not the time to be right!
This post was from guest contributor Andrea Bell, a freelance writer by day and sports fan by night. She is a content contributor at www.braintest.com, which provides dementia testing online. Follow her on Twitter @IM_AndreaBell.