According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in three senior citizens dies in Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. In 2019, there are an estimated 5.8 million people with dementia in the United States. This figure takes into account 5.6 million people who are aged 65 years old and above, and about 200,000 individuals below 65 years old who have Alzheimer’s.
Caring for someone with dementia requires a lot of understanding of this medical condition, time, and patience. How do you care for someone who has dementia?
Find out the answer by reading below.
Dementia 101: Increase Your Awareness and Understanding
Effective dementia care starts with learning how the condition affects the lives of people who are suffering from it. As a caregiver, it’s essential to equip yourself with the right knowledge and understanding about dementia, including its causes, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. In that way, you’ll become an effective carer of someone who has dementia.
Dementia is described as a group of signs and symptoms that affects a person’s thinking, memory, and social abilities. According to the World Health Organization, dementia can strike anybody. This condition affects the person’s ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL), and usually involves gradual and lifetime memory loss and impairment.
There are different causes of dementia, and some signs and symptoms are reversible. In older adults, one of the most common causes of progressive dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are the most common causes of dementia:
- Vascular Disorders: These disorders affect the brain’s blood circulation.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries: Some examples of traumatic brain injuries include falls, car accidents, and concussions.
- Degenerative Neurological Diseases: Neurological diseases tend to get worse over time. A few examples include Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
- Central Nervous System Infection: These disorders include meningitis, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and HIV.
- Other Causes: The other causes of dementia include long-term drug or alcohol use, and fluid buildup in the brain or hydrocephalus.
Build a Good Support System
Patients with dementia tend to exhibit early signs and symptoms, like memory problems, reduced concentration, increasing confusion, personality changes, behavioral changes, withdrawal, apathy, depression, and incapable of doing everyday tasks.
For one type of dementia, Alzheimer’s is considered progressive and irreversible. That’s why caring for someone who has dementia involves continuous care.
Proper communication, patient education, and establishing a good support system within the family and asking help from the community are highly beneficial to the caregiver and the patient. Don’t be afraid or hesitant to ask help from family members and other people to avoid getting burnout or having a stressful and imbalanced life.
Here are some tips to help strengthen the support system of a patient suffering from dementia:
- Seek professional help as necessary. If you feel tired and ineffective as a caregiver, do yourself a favor and hire someone to help you. In that way, you remain strong and positive while caring for someone you love who’s suffering from dementia.
- Allow the patient to enjoy activities of daily living or do what they love to do, like pursuing hobbies and passion within acceptable and recommended frequencies as advised by the doctor. This will help reduce a patient’s stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Seek the help and services of different organizations and government programs that help patients with dementia and their families.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
With modern technology, it’s easier to care for someone who has a medical condition, like dementia. For instance, you can use a scheduling app to plan a patient’s daily activities. It’s important to make sure that a person with dementia gets socialization and sensory experiences (activities that stimulate the senses).
You can tailor fit the patient’s interests by developing various activities throughout the day with the help of a scheduler. For instance, you can try telling stories, singing country music, walking, dancing, gardening, playing with pets, or painting.
You can also talk with your doctor about using an appointment app, so you can easily set up a healthcare appointment or checkup using your smartphone. In that way, you and your loved one won’t need to waste time, effort, and money traveling and waiting for your next doctor’s appointment.
Be an effective caregiver by learning more about dementia, most especially how to deal with patients who show severe symptoms of dementia. It’s also important to get professional help and seek the services of organizations and government agencies concerning caring for people with dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease.
Also, use technology to your advantage to help you in planning or developing meaningful and helpful activities for a patient with dementia, promoting better healthcare communication, and helping improve a patient’s quality of life.