Dementia is in growth as our parents live longer the impact is continuing to grow and expected to exceed 1.6 million people by 2040. So many of us will be faced with caring for a relative member understanding some of the signs or symptoms can help you as well as ease the difficulty of a dementia sufferer. I hope to give you some of the most frequently asked questions and answers that we have had during our time of caring for clients and listening to their family members at A Class Care.
Helpful tips for caring for someone with Dementia?
Dementia is a group of related symptoms associated with a decline in the brain functioning. There are many different causes of dementia, and many different types. People generally get confused between Alzheimer’s and dementia. The term Dementia is a general term used to describe loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are sever enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the common cause of dementia.
What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
The terms dementia and Alzheimer's disease are often used interchangeably, but they do refer to different things. Dementia is a syndrome (in other words, a cluster of symptoms) that includes a progressive loss of cognitive function and changes to behaviour and mood. Dementia has many causes, although Alzheimer's disease is the most common.
What causes Dementia?
Dementia is caused by damage to or loss of nerve cells and their connection to the brain. When damage occurs, it interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. When brain cells cannot communicate normally thinking, behaviour and feelings can be affected. There are several different factors that can cause Dementia to start broadly speaking this could be hereditary, due diet and or due other external stimulus such as an accident or trauma (pseudodementia).
How Does Dementia Start?
Dementia starts by:
Short term memory loss – coming into a room and forgetting why you were there. In the elderly, the person maybe able to recall memories whilst in their youth but may struggle to recall memories regarding what they had for breakfast.
Difficulty Completing familiar Tasks – such as buttoning up their shirt, changing over the TV channel or even preparing meals.
Confusion with time and location – not being aware of where they are or their surroundings. Often the elderly maybe at home but recall their location as being within their childhood home and they may perhaps be unfamiliar with their surroundings.
Trouble understanding visual images and loss of balance.
It is not uncommon for dementia clients to experience difficulties with reading and concentrating for long periods of time. They may sometimes experience difficulties with judging distances and determining colour or contrast which can cause issues with driving.
If you or your loved one has any of these symptoms it does not necessarily mean you have dementia. It would be worth speaking to GP to determine if there are any other causes.
There are so many ways that you can support a client with Dementia. This section can help providing you with some useful tips. For further information, you can visit the Alzheimer’s Society.
Remove black mats – This is not the case with all clients that have Dementia, but some clients can experience some types of dysphoria including confusion when faced with a large black mat. As some clients with Dementia experience decreased peripheral vision and cognitive impairment the black mats can appear to be a large whole in the floor. So, when approaching this the client can become anxious and agitated as they feel as if they are falling into a black whole.
When going shopping, support the client or loved one to walk around the black mat or see if there is another entrance.
Replace Patterned plates with brightly coloured plates: Research has shown that yellow plates increase our clients likelihood of eating. Accompany these plates with brightly coloured crockery. Patterned coloured plates can cause confusion and disorientation which can cause a reduction in appetite.
Approaching a client – This is a tricky one to remember but try to avoid approaching an individual from the side. Due to impairments with their sight clients or loved ones do not always have clear side vision. So, someone approaching them from the side can appear as a black shadow – which you can imagine is quite scary. Aim to approach your loved one directly so they can have full vision of you.
Mirrors - Sometimes these can attribute to anxiety with a client - due to the fact that they are living in the past and who they see is not who they think they are - which can be terrifying or bring on anxiety attack - so review the persons behaviour and if they are becoming agitated or scared in a room look to move or cover the mirror in that room and review if this has helped.
Speak – Avoid shouting, loud voices can be scary and makes the recipient feel threatened. To avoid causing unnecessary anxiety, speak slowly, clearly and get close to your loved one so they can see your lips moving.
Ask simple, answerable questions: Avoid multiple questions, ask one question at a time. Try to keep the questions simple, and clear and perhaps follow the questions with visual aids for example if you say “would you like to wear the blue shirt or white shirt – show your loved ones the options”
Think Of the good old days. – take some time out to revisit those old pictures, visit old sites, friends and communities. Sometimes, it can get hard as you can become lost in the daily routine that it leaves no time to have a little fun whilst visiting old memories. Make time for you and your loved one.
Remember Dementia is a disease and whilst managing a loved one who has this disease can be frustrating for you and difficult, remember its often harder for them. Do seek out extra support and we are here to offer care to your loved one whether that is short term Respite care or live-in care in their home to support independent living and to keep them within familiar surroundings.
Here at A Class Care our highly trained support team will be able to provide advise and guidance on your care needs. If you need support with looking after a loved one or just require respite care contact our friendly care team today.