Watching someone develop dementia can be heartbreaking at times, and not knowing how to help them makes it worse. While you cannot do anything to stop dementia, you can do things to make everyday life more comfortable and less frustrating for both yourself and the individual you are helping.
Understanding the progression of senile dementia is essential in understanding what is going on with your loved one as the disease progresses. It will also allow you to better understand your loved one’s capabilities based on the progression of their condition.
1. Stay positive and understand that they are struggling.
While it may be frustrating to help someone with dementia, it is important to remember they are not trying to be argumentative or difficult. They are struggling with everything that was once second nature. They are struggling with gaps in their memory and forgetting things they know they should remember.
It is a terrifying and challenging process for them, and they need a high level of compassion and understanding. Self-care is crucial for caregivers, which includes taking time for yourself to decompress and learn how to reduce stress. The more stressed, tired, or hungry you are, the more difficult it will be for you to show loving compassion.
2. Do not argue their reality.
When someone with dementia is describing a situation or place that isn’t real, it is essential to remember it is true for them. Some caregivers may think it is helpful to convince the individual that what they are thinking or remembering isn’t real. This will only lead to agitation and embarrassment.
For example, if an older woman is insistent she needs to get home before her daughter gets off the bus from school, don’t try to convince her that her daughter is a grown adult and no longer goes to school. Instead, go along with her reality until it passes. You can go for a walk with her “to the bus stop,” or you can tell her the school called, and they are running late. Even the smallest distraction can make her forget what she was waiting for.
3. Help them remember what they can.
It is often the short-term memories that diminish first, so the individual may be able to remember things that happened 40 years ago, even though they cannot remember this morning. One thing you can do to help them remember is by showing them old photos and videos. These can include pop culture photos, videos, music, and movies. It should also include personal pictures and videos.
Online video storage is a great tool to help you compile, organize, and maintain family videos to share with someone with dementia. When your loved one is feeling agitated, you can start playing old family videos or put on a slideshow of old photos to calm them down. You can also play videos or slideshows when you are relaxing together to do something that they will enjoy.
The attitude and mindset you take into your interactions will make a significant difference in how each interaction goes. If you are having a bad day and feeling incapable of being patient, it is crucial to take a step back and ask for help. Caregiver burnout is a serious problem and creates problems for both the caregiver and the patient. There are a multitude of resources
It is vital to get familiar with the resources in your area, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, Memory Cafés, or other sources of help for people with dementia and their caregivers. Resources will vary based on where you live, but hopefully, there are options available to you.