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Handy Guide for Understanding Dementia in Ageing Parents

how to take care of elders with dementia

Providing elder care with dementia can be a daily struggle. The simplest interactions can be trying and exhausting to loved ones caring for this individual.

More than 15 million loved ones in the U.S. are caring for someone with dementia.

Around 35% of these caregivers report suffering from declining health as a direct result of the demands of caring for someone with dementia.

Understanding more about providing care can help you and your loved one live a more quality life. Let’s look at top signs that your loved one may have dementia and how you can better help this individual.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a broad term that describes a decline in mental function that affects daily life.

Memory loss and Alzheimer’s are two common forms of dementia.

Dementia is caused by damage to the nerve cells in the brain that may result from reactions with medications (or illicit drugs), genetic mutations, head trauma, poor nutrition or unmanaged stress or anxiety among other causes.

Top Signs of Dementia

Because dementia is a very general term it can manifest in several ways. Among these tops signs we find:

  • Personality changes, particularly in front temporal dementia which attacks the personality center of the brain
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Non-adherence to social norms, such as making lewd, inconsiderate or embarrassing comments.
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Each of these can be signs of other conditions. Only a doctor can verify if your loved one is suffering from dementia and what kind.

How to deal with elders with Dementia

Dementia CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick Youngson

How Elder Care with Dementia is Different

Elder care with dementia requires a special kind of person and mindset. You’ll need to understand how to effectively communicate and interact with your loved one.

 

  1. Put off “positive vibes”– Those with the condition may seem incapable of picking up on body language, tone or feelings of resentment or sadness. These energies can start an interaction off on the wrong foot. Take a deep breath and approach each interaction like a new day.

 

  1. Get attention the right way– You may be tempted to raise your voice to be heard. Instead eliminate distractions. Turn down the TV or radio, close an outside door or window, and turn off a loud fan or dishwasher. The sudden silence can help your loved one focus on you.

 

  1. Be clear and concise –Avoid metaphors or other round about methods of communicating. If you want or need something from the loved one, just say it in the simplest possible way.

 

  1. Adjust the pitch– If your voice is naturally higher or lower, or you’re using your “sweet” voice, a person with dementia may actually not hear or understand. Try adjusting your pitch to see if you’re better understood.

 

  1. Talk in steps– Thinking of things in order can help individuals remember how to do things.

 

  1. Listen to body language– Those with dementia often struggle when they can’t think of the right word. Attentively watch and listen. It’s okay to compassionately help them put their thoughts together.

 

  1. Respond with affection, respect and reassurance– Those with dementia know that they can be “frustrating” to those around them. Always approach this person with compassion, even when they don’t seem capable of showing it.

 

Getting Help with a Dementia Sufferer

If you’re caring for someone with dementia, you need a special kind of person to help you with care. This person should be infinitely compassionate and skilled in working with those with dementia.

At Dynamic Home Care we work with you to evaluate the complex individual needs  of elders with dementia. We offer comprehensive case management, in home skilled nursing care, speech therapy, caregiving, respite care services and more.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you care for a loved one with dementia.

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