Dealing with Dementia: How to Help the Ones You Love
Dementia is an age-related brain disease that causes many changes in the patient’s personality, mental abilities and memory as it progresses. This makes the disease very difficult to deal with for family and friends. If you have a loved one with dementia, here are three common symptoms to watch for and strategies to help you deal with them.
Confusion and Disorientation
Episodes of being confused or disoriented are often the first signs of dementia. Your loved one may forget names and faces, become lost or fail to recognize familiar places. Advanced dementia patients living in care homes may express a desire to “go home” several times a day. Gentle and tangible reminders are the best way to deal with these symptoms.
Show your loved one photos often. Arrange for someone to take them to doctor appointments, grocery shopping and other places they need to go. If your loved one is confused about being in a care home, the best strategy is distraction with an enjoyable activity like a walk, craft project or television show. Many care homes, like The Scottish Home, have regularly planned activities that help improve residents’ mental and physical health.
Aggressive or Inappropriate Behavior
Aggression is a common symptom of advancing dementia and is also the most troubling symptom for family members and friends. It can be very difficult to experience aggression from a loved who has never shown hostility to you before. Other inappropriate behavior, such as back-talking, making fun of others and removing clothing in public, can also be troubling.
It is important not to take any of these behaviors personally. Dementia depletes a person’s ability to express specific wants and needs. Aggressive and inappropriate behavior is often the patient’s way of getting attention when they need something. Try to get past the behavior and figure out what your loved one is really trying to say.
Neglect of Personal Hygiene
Dementia patients often begin to neglect basic hygiene and self-care. They may forget to bathe, wash their hands or clean their dentures. This is usually the point when a care home becomes necessary. Take your time when choosing a care home. Visit several facilities, get to know the staff and ask what resources they offer specifically for dementia patients.
Dealing with the many behavior symptoms that come with dementia can be overwhelming. Attempting to care for a loved one with dementia at home often creates stress and resentment for caregivers. A quality, professional facility is the best way to provide your loved one with the constant care they need while preserving your relationship.