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When a Loved One Has Dementia: Some Coping Techniques
This entry was posted on November 11, 2011.
In a previous blog, titled “What is Dementia?”, the condition of dementia was explored in terms of symptoms, causes, and treatments. Broadly, dementia describes a cluster of symptoms that interfere with every day life. The symptoms can included memory loss, inability to learn new things, problems with organization, change in personality, agitation, delusions, and even hallucinations. With improvements in medicine leading to longer lifetimes, more people than ever have loved ones who live with dementia.
Although it can be very difficult to care for people with dementia, there are a number of steps individuals can take to make care easier on themselves and their loved one. Providing medical ID bracelets for those with dementia is essential, but probably one of the easiest steps.
Very important when caring for someone with dementia is to keep in mind that you won’t be able to be perfect. It is not uncommon for a someone with dementia to get angry, not recognize family members, or suffer from other frustrating symptoms. This will be upsetting, especially when you are doing your best to take care of them. Almost inevitably, you will get frustrated and maybe become angry yourself. If you react angrily or impatiently, forgive yourself.
When arguing your case for something, it is a reflex in general life to present the logical reasoning behind your position. However, one of the symptoms of dementia is an inability to think logically. A good skill to acquire when caring for someone with dementia is to let go of logical explanations and make statements about what will be happening, rather than why.
Another reflex in everyday life is the expectation that others will learn from experiences and mistakes. Someone with dementia will likely not learn from mistakes and mishaps. In beginning stages, putting signs up--such as ‘turn off the stove when you’re finished’--will help. Eventually, however, with progressive dementia, these notes will no longer work. At this point, it will be necessary to rearrange the environment so that the ‘mistakes’ are not possible.
Often, nighttime can be particularly difficult for people with dementia. Feeling tired from the day can increase irritability and the darkness can be disorienting. Leaving lights on can help with some disorientation. Limiting daytime caffeine and naps can help avoid restlessness. People with dementia are prone to wandering. This tendency can be augmented at nighttime.
Sometimes, people with dementia even wander out of the house. Because this behavior is common in people with dementia, it is important to make sure your loved one wears some type of medical alert jewelry. This way, if your loved ones happen to wander off, the contact and medical information on their medical alert bracelets or medical alert necklaces will ensure that they find their way home safely and, if necessary, are treated with the correct medications.
Although taking care of a loved one suffering from dementia can be very challenging, many troubles can be avoided and/or relieved. Providing loved ones with medical alert bracelets (i.e. medical ID bracelets), and following some of the tips above will likely alleviate some of the hardships. Along with the difficulties, there you will likely share many rewarding and happy moments.