The maladies that come with old age are many and vary in severity. One of the very worst ailments and/or medical conditions that affects older individuals is dementia. The following is more information about the condition and the various challenges that can accompany this devastating disease:
What is Dementia
This medical term really isn’t a disease itself, but a blanket term used to explain several symptoms that include the loss of critical abilities and the decline of memory. The most common form of the broad term is Alzheimer’s disease. This condition makes up roughly 50 to 80% of cases categorized under dementia. It is estimated it will impact 10 million people by 2050.
Early Stages of Dementia
When caring for an older loved one, it’s important to be able to recognize the early stages of dementia. Small indications will often come about when your loved one still remains primarily independent, even driving themselves to and from various locations. In the early stages, many people will assume they are just stressed or simply “getting old.” As the disease progresses, the symptoms will become worse and occur more often, eventually negatively affecting the everyday lives of those suffering with the condition.
Common Symptoms of Dementia
- Mood swings.
- Disorientation and confusion.
- Paranoia or fear.
- Mild memory loss.
- Decreased awareness.
How to Care For Someone With Dementia
It can be incredibly difficult to take care of someone who is suffering with dementia. Often, there is a measure of denial on their part and your own, primarily in the early stages. It can be hard to admit the reality that is coming. The following are some tips to help you and your loved one adjust to the realities of living life with Alzheimer’s or dementia:
- Find Balance: It can be confusing to try to strike a balance between helping your loved one and giving them their independence. Don’t over stress your loved one, but ask them how much assistance they want and try to honor their wishes as long as they are not endangering themselves.
- Take Over High Stress Tasks: Dealing with certain types of tasks can be extremely difficult for the person suffering with dementia. Even common tasks like grocery shopping or paying the bills can become overwhelming to them. Ask if they are comfortable relegating these tasks to you or at least allowing you to help them complete them. This will reduce additional stress on them.
- Create a Code Word: If you rush to fill in a forgotten word or detail for your loved one too quickly, it might frustrate them. Instead, create a code word they can say that means, okay now it’s okay to offer your help. Then, you don’t jump in too soon.
- Promote And Practice Good Communication: Dementia and the things that go along with the condition are not easy to bear. Therefore, many times, its difficult for those suffering to talk about what they are feeling. Perhaps they don’t even understand it themselves. If you together, though, embrace open communication about the difficulties surrounding the condition, them needing help, etc, it will make it easier for them to continue to talk about their condition as it progresses. It will also make asking for additional help easier for them.
Keep the information listed above in mind when experiencing the devastating condition of dementia with your loved one.