7 Ways to Take Care of Someone with Dementia
Have you ever experienced leaving your home for work only to find out on your way that you forgot to bring your keys? Or have you forgotten where you put the remote control when you just used it an hour ago? Or have you forgotten the name of that person you met at a conference?
Both young and old forget significant and insignificant things from time to time. It may not knowingly affect their way of life but it certainly impacts their activities. Some adults often forget significant aspects of their lives that greatly affect their day-to-day activities. Instances like this might be the everyday reality for some people, especially those who are suffering from dementia.
What is dementia?
According to the CDC, dementia is “the general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interfered with doing everyday activities.” There are different types of dementia and one of the most common is Alzheimer’s disease. It affects and often distorts the memory of the patient, their social interaction, focus, and perception of the recent events. It is a disease that affects the physical, psychological, social, and economic aspects of the people suffering from it and the people around them.
As of September 2020, the World Health Organization reported that around 50 million people have dementia worldwide. The WHO said that dementia is one of the leading causes of dependency and disability among older people. It is often observed in people aged 65 and up and is progressive in nature. It is associated with aging and progresses through time, however, it is not necessarily part of growing old. Some factors influence the progression of the disease and in some cases, it can even be slowed down by practicing healthy activities.
People suffering from dementia often forget how to perform basic tasks such as feeding and bathing themselves. Some even forget how to communicate with others as some lose their ability to remember words. That is why most of them need other people to take care of them. There are organizations specializing in home care that are able to provide much needed assistance for seniors with dementia. Home care organizations help seniors remain safe and comfortable in their own homes. To help them slow down the decline of their memory, here are the things you can do to take care of the people who are suffering from dementia:
- Help them create an everyday routine
People suffering from dementia often do not have a clear sense of everyday events. Coming up with an everyday routine will help them stay focused on the activities for the day and will also help them remember the tasks at a specific time. The routine must also include the regular sleeping time of the patient. According to studies, maintaining good sleep hygiene will help the patient synchronize their circadian rhythm which helps in the reduction of degeneration of the neurons.
- Involve them as much as possible
They may not remember how to do some basic tasks every day, but they are still able to do them on some days. Involving them in the activities will help them remember how to do things such as dressing and feeding themselves.
They can also be involved in doing chores and cooking. The important thing is that they are involved in the activities.
- Encourage them to engage in memory-stimulating activities
One of the effective ways of slowing down the degeneration of memory is engaging in mental-stimulating activities. This may include answering puzzles, playing board games, and even engaging in art activities. Studies show that engaging in mental-stimulating activities helps improve the cognitive function of dementia patients.
- Encourage them to engage in physical activities
Dementia is not only about the brain activities of the patient. Other factors may accelerate or decelerate the onset of dementia of a person. One of which is engaging with physical activities. Recent studies in Colombia University stated that engaging in exercise may help people with their dementia. The hormone irisin, which is produced during physical activities, was linked to neurogenesis in the central nervous system and was said to be one of the elements important in addressing dementia.
These activities are not required to be exhaustive. It may be a simple walk outside or other simple physical activity.
- Provide them healthy food
Everyone from any age group, even those who do not suffer from any disease deserves to eat healthy food. However, it is crucial for patients with dementia to be served healthy foods including low cholesterol food, fruits such as berries, and vegetables.
Slowing down memory degeneration involves caring for the overall well-being of the patient.
- Encourage them to keep a journal, photographs, or books that are familiar
While most patients with dementia will forget the events in their lives, there are ways in which you can help them remember those. Encouraging them to keep a journal will stimulate their memory and remembering capacity. Old photographs and books that are familiar to them will also help them bring back those memories.
- Be patient and calm when communicating with them
Taking care of a person with dementia is not easy. There will be times when they do not remember a single thing about anything. However, it is important to remember that this is part of their disease. It is not their fault that they do not remember anything. The best way to help them is to be patient and calm when trying to make them recall something or trying to make them perform a task.
Understanding their situation and learning about them will be the first and most important step in taking care of people with dementia. Currently, there is still no known cure for this. However, there are simple steps we can do to take care of them and help in slowing down its effects on their memory.