Dementia presents numerous difficulties to individuals who are close to those who are suffering from it. Common behaviors that result from conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or frontotemporal dementia can be challenging to see and deal with.
Caregiving for a person with dementia can occasionally be stressful, perplexing, or upsetting. The route forward can be made easier by comprehending why specific behaviors take place and developing effective techniques for coping with Dementia.
What is Dementia?
A set of symptoms that substantially impair memory, reasoning, and social skills are referred to be dementia when they significantly interfere with day-to-day functioning. Although there isn’t one particular illness that causes dementia, many illnesses can.
Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, but it can have many different causes. Memory loss alone does not necessarily indicate dementia, despite the fact that it is frequently one of the first symptoms of the illness.
Although there are several additional causes of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most frequent one in older persons. Some dementia symptoms could be reversible, depending on the underlying reason.
Common Signs of Dementia
What actions are typical of those who suffer from dementia? People who have dementia frequently display a variety of odd behaviors, including:
- Saying strange things or describing specific things incorrectly.
- Failing to take a bath or not appreciating the need of maintaining good hygiene.
- Asking the same question repeatedly or repeating oneself.
- Stealing or misplacing items from others.
- Neither remembering nor recognizing who they are.
- The conviction that a loved one who has passed away is still alive.
- Hoarding things like mail or even trash.
- Displaying paranoid tendencies.
- Being quickly upset or confused.
- Leaving the house without informing you and getting lost.
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Why do these Actions take place?
Imagine a wildfire changing its course inside the brain of a loved one who has dementia, harming or obliterating the brain cells (neurons) and neural networks that control human behavior. The underlying cause(s) of dementia will determine what causes this damage. For instance, while the precise origin of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, proteins that either suffocate or strangle brain cells are thought to have a significant role in the condition. Neurons die as a result of sometimes inadequate blood supply to certain brain regions in a person with vascular dementia.
As dementia worsens, the brain cells responsible for memory, planning, judgment, and mood regulation are lost. Your filters are lost.
Six Mechanisms for Coping with Dementia-related Behaviors
Dealing with uncomfortable or perplexing dementia-related behavior may call for a different approach than you would use with a child. Dementia can make elderly persons seem like youngsters due to decreases. However, individuals are typically more patient around kids. With elderly folks, you want to take that strategy into consideration.
- Don’t correct misinformation or odd claims because doing so could make a person with dementia feel dumb or inferior. Although they might not recall specifics, they tend to hang onto their feelings, feel alone, and retreat. Instead, make them comfortable. Just follow their instructions. Maintain a light tone.
- Don’t make an effort to persuade the person. The understanding of your loved one has been harmed by dementia. It could be frustrating for both of you to try to reason.
- Use Distraction. When the person makes unreasonable demands or becomes mildly irritated, this is helpful. Accept what the other person is saying and alter your course of action. I can see that you’re upset, so I’ll say that. Let’s take a moment to go over here. After that, participate in a relaxing activity that involves the senses, like folding socks, sitting outside together, or eating some fruit.
- Keep dangerous items hidden from view. Things a loved one shouldn’t have, especially those that could be dangerous, like car keys or cleaning supplies, should be stored or locked away. Think about putting cabinet locks in.
- Control hygiene practices. The individual with dementia might require a gentle reminder to take a shower or for the day’s clothes to be laid out on the bed. Or perhaps you’ll need some help with dressing, brushing teeth, shaving, or showering.
- Spend some time together. You don’t need to hold an interesting conversation with your loved one or persuade them of your identity. Simply enjoy some music together or engage in some easy activities. It will prevent them from withdrawing even more.
Safety is Important when a Person has Dementia
When a loved one has dementia, straightforward techniques may not always be sufficient.
For instance, if the individual repeatedly tries to escape the house, you might need to install more door locks, a security system, or GPS tracker bracelets for the person. You might also add child-proof coverings to doorknobs.
You must call a doctor if the patient is constantly irritated or perhaps violent. It’s possible that agitation is being brought on by a recent medical issue (such a urinary tract infection). In cases of significant agitation or hostility, doctors may give medicine to assist control mood, such as an antidepressant or an antipsychotic, if the agitated behavior is predictable, severe, and not caused by a recent health issue.
Prevention of Dementia
Although there is no surefire way to stop dementia, there are several things you may do that might be beneficial. Although more research is required, the following actions might be advantageous:
- Keep your brain engaged. Reading, figuring out puzzles and word games, memory training, and other mentally engaging activities may postpone the onset of dementia and lessen its consequences.
- Be active both physically and socially. Social engagement and physical activity may help to prevent dementia and lessen its symptoms. Attempt to work out for 150 minutes each week.
- Give up smoking. Smoking may increase your risk of dementia and blood vessel disorders as you get older, according to several research. Your risk may be reduced and your health will improve if you stop smoking.
- Consume enough vitamins. According to some research, those who have low blood levels of vitamin D are more prone to acquire dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Certain meals, supplements, and sun exposure all provide vitamin D.
It will take more research before an increase in vitamin D intake is advised for dementia prevention, but getting enough vitamin D is still a good idea. Vitamin C and B-complex supplements taken daily may also be beneficial.
- Manage the risk factors for heart disease. Diabetes, excessive cholesterol, and blood pressure should all be treated. If you are overweight, lose weight.
Some forms of dementia may have an increased risk associated with high blood pressure. If treating high blood pressure will lessen the risk of dementia, more research is required.
- Address medical conditions. For help with anxiety or sadness, visit your doctor.
- Keep up a balanced diet. A diet like the Mediterranean diet, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are often found in some fish and nuts, along with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other nutrients, may enhance health and reduce your risk of dementia. Additionally, this kind of diet enhances cardiovascular health, which may help reduce the risk of dementia.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Talk to your doctor if you snore excessively, experience periods of unconsciousness during which you stop breathing, or gasp for air. Also, practice excellent sleep hygiene.
- Correct hearing issues. Cognitive decline is more likely to occur in people who have hearing loss. Early hearing loss therapy, such as the use of hearing aids, may help lower the risk.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is dementia caused?
Damage to brain cells is what leads to dementia. The interfering damage prevents brain cells from communicating with one another. Thinking, behavior, and feelings might be impacted when brain cells are unable to communicate correctly.
Is dementia treatable?
Dementia has no known "cure" as of yet. There probably won't be a single dementia cure because dementia is brought on by a variety of illnesses. The goal of research is to identify treatments for the illnesses that cause dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies.
How long is dementia treatable?
The following are the average life expectancy figures for the most prevalent kinds of dementia: The average lifespan of Alzheimer's is eight to ten years. If a person is diagnosed in their 80s or 90s, their life expectancy is lower. Some Alzheimer's patients live longer, occasionally for 15 or even 20 years.
Is dementia hereditary?
Many dementia sufferers worry that they might inherit or pass on the disease. Most dementias are not passed down to children or grandchildren. There may be a substantial genetic component to some uncommon forms of dementia, however these cases make up a very small part of total dementia cases.
Find the assistance and support you require as your dementia changes. Nobody anticipates you to be able to communicate well with someone who has dementia. We all have a learning curve, and it never ends even if you develop a sense of the environment. Process changes are ongoing. What functions for your loved one today might not function for them next week or the week after that. So, continue to try new things.