The elderly population continues to grow and many of them have dementia. Friends and family members must find a way to help them. First, they have to understand that dementia is not a single illness. Rather, it’s a combination of things going on in the brain. The person could be a victim of a mini-stroke or they may have Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some tips on how you can be a help.
Dementia Patients Should Not Live Alone
Dementia patients have periods of lucidity. However, they’re often forgetful, which can be dangerous. It’s not uncommon for them to turn the stove on and forget about it. Help your loved one find a spot in an assisted living facility. These facilities have special memory care programs. Visit McKnightPlace.com to learn more.
It’s often frustrating when someone loses their memory. Always approach the situation positively. Further, think about what it feels like to suddenly feel confused. Show your loved they’re valued and loved.
Be the Teacher
Dementia patients are good at mimicking behavior. For instance, they may forget how to comb their hair. Pick up a comb and do your hair. This reminds them what they need to do. Put a fork in your mouth, if they’ve forgotten how to eat. Don’t complete a task for them because they want to be independent.
Help the Individual Stay Active
Staying active helps a person with dementia focus on the positive things in life. Spend time with them doing fun things like visiting a friend. This is not the time for your loved one to be isolated. It’s also a good idea to find ways to help them do familiar things. For example, introduce the person to television news channels if they can’t focus to read the newspaper.
Try to Find Ways to Stop the Wandering
People with dementia are restless and walk a lot. Indeed, they may wander away from home. Try to discover what triggers the wandering. Are they looking for a person or thing? Physicians recommend regular exercise to ease the restless feeling. Further, take precautions in the home like moving locks higher on the door. Likewise, experts say it may help to place a stop sign on the door.
Caregivers cannot take enough safety precautions. Dementia patients may forget they’re walking down steps, while they’re walking. Make sure handrails are on all steps. Moreover, don’t leave medicine or other harmful substances laying around.
Good hygiene is important for everyone. However, dementia patients may forget some part of the routine. Make sure they brush their teeth and bathe. Make sure the bath area has grab bars and mats. Patients should never be left in the bathroom alone. Try to maintain the patient’s hygiene routine. Let them use favorite soaps and lotions.
Keep Patients Hydrated
Interestingly, dehydration is a leading cause of death for dementia patients. Thirst decreases with age and dementia patients may forget to drink water. Find ways of encouraging them to drink. Introduce them to new drinks like Gatorade and different juices. They may drink more if the taste is more appealing than water.
Dementia Patients Can Be Paranoid
Caretakers must find a way to help loved ones deal with paranoia. Don’t argue if the person is angry and accusatory. They may accuse someone of stealing an object. What’s really going on is they’ve hidden it. Reassure them that you’re not the enemy. Let them know they are loved. Further, help them find their favorite hiding places. Let other family members know not to move the patient’s belongings.
Make Sure the Patient Eats
Eating well is important for dementia patients. Failing to eat can lead to many other health problems. Meals and snacks should be given at the same time every day. Let the patient feed themselves because independence is important. Make sure the food is seasoned and cut it up if necessary. Further, finger foods are easy for the patient to handle.
Let’s Go Out
Another way of helping the patient eat is to take them out for a meal. Dining out and other social activities is important. A British study found that persons with dementia lose some ability to be part of a group. Further, the study indicates that dining out leads to better nutrition and hydration.
Dementia patients often become incontinent as they age. There should be a routine for going to the toilet. The caregiver wants to make sure the patient is not embarrassed by making a mistake. Make sure they go to the toilet every hour. Further, incontinence pads should be used at night. Likewise, consider putting a commode chair in the patient’s room.
Dressing May be Difficult
Caregivers often complain about the dressing routine. It’s not uncommon for patients to wear the same thing over again. Remember to remove dirty clothes as soon as possible. Buying the right clothes makes the task much easier. Buttons are difficult for dementia patients. Rather, try clothes with snaps and zippers. It’s most important that the patient wear comfortable clothes.
Dementia symptoms seem to get worse at night. This is called sundowning. Caretakers can help by keeping the patient busy during the day. Don’t let them take naps or sit down a lot. Schedule a regular exercise period. It’s important for the caretaker to sleep at night. If you’re not, consider asking a friend to watch the patient while you sleep.
Sing a Song
Research shows that music helps dementia patients cope. Music activates the part of the brain that controls coordination. Additionally, music calms patients when they’re agitated. Patients are more likely to enjoy music that was popular in their youth.
There’s a lot of hard work involved in caring for a dementia patient. The process may start affecting the caretaker’s health. Consider placing the family member in an assisted living facility. The memory care experts take good care of them.