Families and caregivers face several challenges when caring for someone with dementia. Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia, cause a degenerative biological brain problem that weakens a person’s ability to think, remember, communicate and take care of themselves.
A person’s attitude and behavior might also be affected by dementia, causing mood swings. Caring for a person with dementia typically involves having to cope with problematic behavioral issues and communication challenges.
What is Dementia?
It is not a specific illness, but a collective name for poor memory, degenerative thinking, and difficulty to make decisions that strongly affect a person’s daily life. Dementia often develops into Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia is not a natural part of the aging process, even though it affects mainly older people.
What Causes Dementia?
A wide range of brain disorders can cause Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Various types of dementia have been connected to specific changes in the brain, discovered via scientific studies; however, the fundamental reasons for most of these changes remain unclear. In addition, a small percentage of people can develop dementia due to rare genetic disorders.
Overall, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help with lowering the risk factors that have been related to certain illnesses, but so far there is no cure or prevention for dementia. However, proper dementia care can help ease some of the symptoms caused by the disorder.
Types of Dementia
Here are a few of the most common types of dementia.
Dementia can be caused by medicinal side effects, increased brain pressure, vitamin insufficiency or thyroid hormonal imbalance. People worried about developing dementia should get evaluated by their doctor to see if there are other probable reasons for their symptoms.
Brain disorders cause most cases of dementia and account for 60 to 80 percent of all cases. For example, if you cannot recall what happened only a few minutes, or hours ago, you may have Alzheimer’s. As the disease progresses, patients find it increasingly difficult to recall distant experiences.
Problems with mobility, speech, and even personality changes might emerge later. The most critical risk factor is a person’s family history. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease rises by 10% to 30%, if they have a close relative who has the condition.
Lewy Body Dementia
Persons who have dementia may have problems with their mobility and balance, such as stiffness or tremors. Other symptoms include daily fatigue, disorientation, dizzy spells, insomnia, hallucinations, and other issues.
The part of the brain affected by this form of dementia is the most likely to alter a patient’s personality and behavior. People with this syndrome can have abnormal behavior. People affected by this type of dementia are more likely to make rude remarks and neglect their duties at home, or the workplace. Aside from an inability to talk or understand, reduced vocabulary can also be an issue.
Strokes, and other problems with blood supply to the brain, are associated with around 10% of all dementia patients. Risk factors for developing a cardiovascular problem include diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. The signs and symptoms depend on the size and location of the damaged part of the brain. The symptoms will gradually become more severe, as the patient suffers from more strokes or mini-strokes.
In adults over the age of 80, it is not uncommon to have more than one kind of dementia present at the same time. Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia can coexist in the same individual.
The symptoms of one kind of dementia can be more prominent, or overlap with another type of dementia, making it difficult to tell whether or not a person has mixed dementia. Suffering from more than one kind of dementia can also speed up the degenerating process.
Although we cannot communicate efficiently with a dementia patient, it is possible to learn. Your loved one’s quality of life will most likely improve when you improve your communication skills as a caregiver. Caring for someone with dementia can force you to deal with challenging behaviors. Good communication skills will help you handle these situations more efficiently.
Dementia patients often experience feelings of disorientation, anxiety, and a lack of confidence. They are also prone to talking about things that never happened. Make it clear that you know these stories are just a figure of their imagination.
Pay attention to the emotions they are expressing, and provide comfort and support when they need it, to help them calm down. If everything else fails, try showing affection to the patient by holding hands, caressing, or embracing them.
Grab their Attention
Make sure there are no distractions by turning off the radio or tv, closing the curtains, shutting the door, or moving to a quieter location. Make sure you have their attention before talking to them.
Use nonverbal clues and physical touch to keep their attention. Address them by name, identify yourself by name, and what relation you have to them. If they are sitting, keep eye contact with them.
Make use of simple wordings and phrases. Reassure them by speaking slowly and clearly. Keep your voice calm, instead of raising it, and you will sound more comforting.
Repeat what you said if they do not understand you the first time around. Then, wait a few minutes and try again if they still do not understand you.
Interact with Positivity
How you use your body language and tone of voice makes your communication more efficient than if you use only words. To create a friendly and safe atmosphere, talk to your loved ones warmly and calmly.
Ask Simple Questions
Asking simple questions with yes/no answers is most efficient. Avoid using open-ended questions or providing an excessive number of options. “Would you like to go for a walk?” is an example of this. Using your body language helps you clarify your question.
Listen to them Properly
Waiting for a response from a loved one can take time. It is good to provide suggestions if they seem stumped. Observe and react properly to their body language and nonverbal clues. Always try to hear what they are not saying.
Change Topics when Necessary
Change the topic, or the setting, if your loved one becomes irritated. Request assistance or propose a walk. Before redirecting, it is critical to reach an understanding with the person.
Also, maintaining diet plans can be a great addition to Alzheimer’s care and management.
Alzheimer’s disease affects each individual differently. Therefore it is important to adjust your communication with each person. To cope with the challenges ahead, patience, flexibility, self-care, and support from loved ones are essential.