Are you worried about you or your loved one suffering from dementia in the future? Or are you currently suffering from an early stage of dementia? Please know that you are not alone. It is projected that nearly 14 million older adults will have dementia by 2060. Given how prevalent dementia is, how do you prepare for it and ensure you receive adequate care? Here are tips for older adults and their loved ones about living with dementia.
People who have dementia behave in ways that can be troubling to caregivers. This includes getting agitated or aggressive, sleeplessness, and wandering off in a bout of confusion. Let’s take a look at some of these aspects and how to manage them.
Memory Loss and Confusion
As dementia progresses, individuals can experience memory loss and confusion. This can lead them to repeat the same questions and phrases, not recognize previously familiar places or people, and become disoriented.
To reduce confusion, caregivers should simplify the environment and interactions. Using color coding and labeling, individuals who deal with dementia will be better able to find things. Keeping familiar objects around can also help them to reorientate themselves. The usage of to-do lists, calendars, and alarms will also be great for remembering tasks. As for interactions, simple and short sentences, as well as simple yes or no questions will be great for fostering understanding. Reassurance and gentle tones will also ease their minds and help them to open up.
Physical aggression and verbal threats are part of dementia behaviors that usually occur in the latter stages of dementia, since individuals who suffer from dementia find it difficult to vocalize their needs. It can feel hurtful and discouraging for caregivers to be at the receiving end of such behavior when they are trying to help.
It’s important to understand where such behaviors stem from. Usually, it can occur when a dementia patient feels disoriented, scared, or confused. This might happen if they are approached by someone they do not recognize. At other times, they might be acting out due to physical pain, emotional pain, or other unmet needs, such as hunger or thirst. Sometimes, it could be due to adverse reactions to medications, or vision loss and hearing loss.
Caregivers should not take aggression personally. Instead, they should reassure their loved ones, help them to reorientate by showing a familiar object, and redirect the dementia patient’s attention to the familiar object, such as a family photograph. You can try to connect them to their long-term memory, such as the birth of their child, to engage them in positive memories. If they’ve calmed down, try to ask yes or no questions to see if an unmet need is causing their behavior.
Many dementia patients tend to wander since they’re confused and disoriented. This can be very dangerous. It’s important to secure doors and use surveillance systems to keep the dementia patient safe. If it’s too difficult to manage for caregivers, dementia patients can benefit from memory care living options in senior living communities. Skilled professionals will be able to carry on the caregiving burden while keeping your loved one safe.