Guest Blog: Caring for a Relative Who Has Dementia

Dementia is the loss of memory partially or completely when certain diseases affect the mind. Dementia does not affect the memory only. Negative changes are experienced in judgment, reasoning, personality, health deterioration, and mood swings.

There are three major stages of dementia which are mild, moderate and severe dementia. People affected with Mild dementia occasionally forget people's names, places, driving, learning new things and doing complicated tasks. Moderate dementia causes those affected to forget bathing, difficulty in talking and wonder very much. Patients affected with severe dementia has total memory loss, are incapacitated, and has trouble digesting food.

Understanding the level of dementia your relative is affected with is very crucial. It will be easier to offer tailored care. Researching and reading extensively will help you offer better care for the patient. The following are some nice tips to help you navigate the situation.

Seek for Outside Help
No man is an island. The more you know how to deal with a person suffering from dementia the better. In many communities, there are support centers. The support groups help members share their experience on how they deal with dementia. They share how they deal with different problems and overcome the frustrations. Also, professional caregivers are available to offer advice. They can take care of the patient when you are not around.

Communication is Key
A person suffering from dementia will have difficulties in communicating. Their ability is impaired. They may need something but do not know how to tell you. It is worse when they have mood swings. Understanding them is very crucial. If they demand something explain to them politely why they can not have it. Try to listen to them intently and acknowledge anything they say.

Create a Sleeping Routine
Dementia always causes dysfunction in sleeping. The patient may tend to oversleep all day or night. The patient may experience sleep deprivation. It is advisable to create a bedtime routine. The patient can only sleep when it is the set time to sleep. The bedroom should be clean and quiet with a lock. The patient should have a peaceful sleep without any external distraction.

“Changes in the brain caused by dementia begin years before diagnosis. And throughout this timeframe, there are no clear signs that that person has dementia.” comments Jane Byrne, Project Coordinator at FirstCare.

Keep Track Of The Movements
Dementia patients keep straying away. Without being put in a protected area they can be lost. It is very difficult to keep track of their movements if you are doing other activities. Always lock the doors or fence the compound to prevent the patient from wandering away from home. Surveillance cameras and alarm system will help you with his movements in the house. It is good if you can put an ankle tracker to trail a patient if they get lost in the neighborhood.

Contain Hallucinations
Hallucinations lead to the affected party to be scared and very anxious. They may hurt a family member during hallucinating so keep sharp objects away. Medicate the patient to reduce hallucinating. Always keep the person busy to help him from getting hallucinations.

As the caregiver, it is good to be patient and understanding.  It will help especially when the patient is undergoing a challenging time.

About the Author:

Holly Clark is a project coordinator with Firstcare and often blogs about both the personal and practical challenges of caring for the elderly. Firstcare has been providing quality nursing home care and dementia care in Ireland for over 14 years.


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