When you first hear the diagnosis “dementia,” your mind might start reeling. You might think: “why me?” or “why my family?” Dementia affects many people around the world and is most commonly associated with old age. Chances are, you or someone you know has experienced a loved one has experienced the pains that come with watching someone once full of life struggle with dementia. Everyone copes with dementia differently, but how can we take care of the people we love who are affected? Read on to learn more.
What is Dementia?
First, it helps to know what dementia actually is.
Dementia is an umbrella term for the decline in someone’s memory, cognition, and ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s, for example, falls under this umbrella. Common symptoms include short term memory loss, difficulty understanding images and spatial relationships, and difficulty completing tasks previously seen as “familiar” or “easy”. As dementia develops, a patient may act differently than they normally do. Mood swings, restlessness, and sudden anger are a few emotional changes you may encounter.
The main cause of dementia is brain cell damage. Since brain cells relay messages all around the body, damaged cells cannot fulfill this task and will make it difficult to remember things or even move around. While there is no cure, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising both the mind and body regularly can help prevent dementia. People with dementia can also take medications, try drug-free therapies, or both to slow its effects.
What Can I Do to Help Someone With Dementia?
It can be heartbreaking to watch a loved one succumb to dementia. You may feel lost, frustrated, alone, or even scared. You may even feel as though there is nothing you can do. Rest assured: being there physically and emotionally for your loved ones is the most helpful thing you can do.
Emotionally supporting a loved one coping with dementia is the most effective thing you can do. By showing them you are there and willing to listen, you can help ease the stress that comes with dementia itself. Listening to what your loved one says and remaining patient with them will show them that you are there for them. You can, for example, familiarize yourself with things they enjoy so you can talk about or do it with them. Reminiscing about a shared experience helps; that way, you can focus on things they remember. Long-term memories do not deteriorate as quickly as short term memories, so if they can tell you a story about the past, let them, even if they get some of the events mixed up or incorrect.
Physical and Medical Support
You can physically support a loved one with dementia by making their living space “dementia-friendly”. According to the Autumn Leaves society: “dementia can often skew how things are viewed.”
This means that people with dementia may mess up certain patterns and visual cues. For example, a shiny floor could look wet or swirly carpeting might look like snakes. To avoid this, using plain, solid colors can help reduce stress in a living environment. You can always ask your loved one what their favorite color is so they have a say in their home’s interior as well. Another way you can physically assist your loved ones is by providing easy-to-read directions for operating gadgets like television remotes. That way, they can enjoy some independence.
Purchasing medical supplies for the home can also help maintain your loved one’s safety. For example,Hospital beds can help keep patients safe at night. With adjustable heights and sitting angles, your loved one can lower their bed to make getting in and out easier. They can also change their sitting position in bed during the day as they please. Some hospital beds come with side rails as well, which can further help your loved one get into and out of bed with extra support, and they can also prevent falling out of bed at night./a> can be purchased separately for any bed, not just hospital beds.
Wheelchairs, Walkers, and canes can help your loved one maintain independence and mobility. Since motor skills tend to deteriorate as dementia progresses, walking may become more difficult than it previously was for your loved one. By helping them move from place to place, they can still maintain their mobility and sense of independence.
To browse other items that can help your loved one remain independent and safe, visit Medical Supply Depot.