What is dementia?
According to online sources, dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Dementia in and of itself is not a specific disease, but rather a term to describe symptoms of impairment. Memory loss and Alzheimer’s are examples of dementia.
What are some of the various symptoms of dementia? Although one or two of these symptoms does not mean that dementia is the case, it is important to recognize the early signs and certainly more than a noted few would suggest consulting with your doctor:
- Difficulty finding the right words
- Difficulty following storylines
- Changes in mood
- Reduced concentration
- Loss of ability to do everyday tasks
- Short-term memory loss
- A failing sense of direction
- Being repetitive
- Struggling to adapt to change
Although we most often think of dementia as a memory disorder of sorts, experts say that dementia is actually more accurately defined as a fatal brain failure. Sadly, in the end, dementia almost always leads to death. It tends to be more like a terminal disease like cancer rather than just a form of memory loss.
Most of the time dementia does not run in the family, but rather is determined by a mix of our age, lifestyle and whether you carry the dementia risk genes.
Have a loved one with some form of dementia? There are some things to remember when dealing with those who are suffering from dementia.
Exercise has been proven as a great way to slow down the aging of the brain. Consistency is important rather than going overboard occasionally. Even a walk in the morning and evening for 10-15 minutes can keep the blood circulating through the body and of course, the brain.
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Yes, telling jokes and having a good laugh has been likened to one taking medication for relief of anxiety and stress.
Show that you are united with them in the struggle. A touch or holding of their hand can help tell them that everything is going to be ok.
Keep it simple. When speaking with your loved one, try to keep to questions that require a simple yes or no answer. Anything beyond this can cause confusion, leading to frustration.
For someone experiencing dementia, the daily frustration of trying to remember things and function proves to be very stressful. Try your best to relieve some of the stress by creating a calm and peaceful environment. If you are caring for someone with dementia and you are the sole caregiver, it can weigh heavily on you, so it is important to try and take time for yourself when you can. Time spent reading or going for a walk, or whatever it is that helps you relax, will also carry over when caring for your loved one. If you are stressed, emotionally and mentally exhausted, it is likely your loved one will sense this, creating more tension and frustration for them.
When you are tired and emotionally exhausted, patience can be hard to come by. Again, it is important to take time for you to allow a refill on your energy bank. Patience will be key in dealing with anyone at any stage of dementia. Both of you will be navigating down an untraveled road.
Be sure to check out resources for help and information:
First Link – a referral program designed to help newly diagnosed people with dementia get the help they need as soon as possible