Loving A Senior With Alzheimers Despite Changes In Their Personality
Although dementia can significantly change a seniors personality and the nature of the relationship you have with them, that doesnt necessarily mean you love them any less. Dr. Kenneth M. Sakauye, a geriatric psychiatrist at UT Medical Group in Memphis, Tennessee, says, You may just have to dig a little deeper to find that love.
On the toughest days, try to remember how your loved one was prior to their diagnosis. If there was once a close, affectionate bond between you, it hasnt disappeared. Its merely changing, Dr. Sakauye reassures. Reflecting on the past can be an emotional experience but reframing the way you reminisce can be helpful. Mourning the loss of a loved one before they have passed away is a unique and inescapable aspect of dementia caregiving. Grief is to be expected but try not to let it overwhelm you. Strive to focus on the enjoyable moments you had together and how fortunate you were to be able to share them. Things are increasingly complicated now and will likely never be the same moving forward, but there will be other touching moments ahead for both of youif you keep an open heart and mind.
Dementia Home Care Services
While it can be particularly hard on a family member providing care, especially if a senior is battling with dementia and anger. Professional resources are available to help seniors with dementia live safely and comfortably. Visiting Angels provides specialized in-home dementia care services for seniors with early-stage, mid-stage, or late-stage dementia. Our caregivers help people with dementia maintain quality of life inside their own home. We also provide family members with much-needed respite care.
Keep Up Social Connections Just 10 Minutes A Day Can Help
Things like music therapy or just playing some pleasing, quiet music, a massage, or exercise can help the mood and behavior of some people with dementia. Unfortunately, the research on these alternative therapies is not far-reaching enough to suggest them as treatment or therapy for dementia patients, but you could see if these work for your loved one.
Encourage people to visit and meet with the patient. Sometimes the embarrassment or fear of others seeing the changed behavior, personality, and memory of the individual can be discouraging when it comes to having visitors. Overcome this, because these relationships are crucial. Keep up their routines and hobbies and interests as much as possible. If they were a weekly church-goer, go to church with them. If they liked walking in the park every evening, they should continue to do so, but with someone to help them if they forget their way home. Keep up as much of a semblance of normalcy as you can. As one study found, the impact this can have is huge! Researchers found that dementia patients who indulged in as little as 60 minutes of conversation every week which translates to an average of 8.5 minutes a day saw reduced agitation levels. This also cut down the perception of pain they were living with.
How To Deal With Dementia: 8 Tips To Support Your Loved One
Having a loved one who has dementia isnt easy for anyone. Its hard to know what to do when you see someone forget the things that make them who they are.
Unfortunately, dementia is becoming more common by the year. Reports show that 5.8 million Americans had dementia during 2019.
If youre wondering how to deal with dementia, look no further. Below are eight tips that will help you take care of your loved one.
Stage 2: Age Associated Memory Impairment
This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:
- Forgetting where one has placed an object
- Forgetting names that were once very familiar
Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.
Learn How You Can Slow Down Progression
While there is no cure for dementia, there are many steps you can take that can help to slow down the progression. Many tend to be lifestyle changes, so the sooner you can embrace them, the better it will be for your loved one.
Some of the changes you can adopt include:
- Make sure they eat a healthy well-balanced diet
- Make sure they are exercising regularly
- Make sure they are staying social, getting together with family and friends
- Make sure they understand that getting enough sleep each night is important
- Encourage brain-boosting activities things like brain puzzles and games
- Try to eliminate stress from their daily life
Monday 17 September 2018
Dementia is the term given to a group of diseases that affect a persons thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday tasks. While its commonly thought of as an older persons disease, dementia can affect people of all ages.
Early symptoms of dementia can be vague and vary between people. While some people pick up on changes in their own thinking or behaviour that might be caused by dementia, sometimes these signs are first noticed by those around them.
If youve noticed a change in someone close to you, the steps below can help you assist them in seeking diagnosis and treatment.
Know What To Expect: The Changing Needs And Habits Of Someone With Dementia
If someone has dementia, you might at first assume it may only impact their ability to remember things or learn. But this has more far-reaching impact than youd imagine. As the illness progresses, you may notice changes in these areas:
- Eating patterns, likes, and dislikes
- Continence or ability to control when they answer natures call
- Sleeping habits
While this can be unnerving, it is something that can be managed with awareness, practice, and the right help. What follows are some guidelines and tips that could make the experience of caring for a loved one with dementia a little easier on you and them.
Do Not Engage In Arguments
One of the worst things a person can do to an individual who has dementia is to start an argument or even force them to do something that makes them upset or angry. When the discussion or argument is too heated, it may be better to walk away to create an environment where everyone can remain calm. Experts agree that one of the ways that can yield results when it comes to dementia behavior problems is to get rid of the word no when dealing with patients. Avoid forcibly restraining a dementia sufferer at all costs.
Spend Time With Your Partner And Children
Caring for someone with dementia can quickly become the focus of attention for the household. Young children and spouses can feel excluded and left behind. Take time to schedule activities for just the family. A family member or professional caregiver can stay with your loved one and bring special activities so it is a fun evening for him or her as well.
- Create a family calendar. This should include not just appointments, but fun activities centered on togetherness.
- Find a support system. Being the primary caregiver doesnt mean one has to be the only caregiver. Create a tag team and let other family members get involved.
- Talk things through. Shine a light on the factors that may stress relationships by holding a family meeting.
Know Your Dementia Risk And Reduce It
The three most important risk factors for Alzheimer’ are age, family history and genetics. Research has also found the following information:
- Most individuals with Alzheimers disease are 65 and older.
- One in nine people in that age group and nearly one-third of people aged 85 and older have Alzheimers.
- People with a parent, brother or sister with Alzheimers are more likely to develop Alzheimers. The risk increases if multiple family members have the disease.
- Scientists have determined certain genes make some people more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. This is one risk factor and not a cause of Alzheimers.
- Research also indicates that older Latinos and African-Americans are more at risk for Alzheimers and other dementia. The reasons are still unclear.
The risk of developing dementia increases with conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels, like heart disease, diabetes and stroke. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can also increase risk. Work with your doctor to manage and control these conditions.
What To Do If You Think A Loved One Has Alzheimer’s
Have you noticed your mothers memory declining? Do you question your husbands judgment in areas where he has always displayed competence in until recently? Has your sister been behaving strangely lately and falsely accusing you of taking her money?
If youre in that uncomfortable place where you suspect your loved one may have Alzheimers, it can be difficult to know what to do. Its a touchy subject to raise, and one that requires careful thought before doing so.
Dealing With Dementia Behaviors: Expert Tips For Understanding And Coping
Anger, confusion, and sadness are a few symptoms a person with dementia may experience regularly. The result of these feelings is a range of unpredictable behaviors including using poor judgment, aggression, mood swings, and repeated questioning or manipulation.
Even though you know your loved ones dementia behaviors are symptoms of a disease and not intentional, dealing with them is often emotionally and physically challenging. Learn more about typical dementia behaviors in the elderly and expert tips for managing them.
Dementia Causes Loss Of Cognitive And Behavioral Function
Dementia is the term used to describe the loss of both cognitive and behavioral functions, typically in the elderly. It can impact not just the ability to remember, reason, and think, but also things like problem-solving capability, visual perception, ability to manage ones own life, and even behavior and personality due to lack of control on emotions. While some amount of nerve loss in the brain is normal as one grows older, if you have dementia this happens at a far greater rate and to a greater extent.
Escalating Care Needs For Adls
Dementia patients are very prone to falling. Their cognitive impairment makes them unable to perform any ADLs . As the term implies, it refers to the six basic human skills:
Not only ADLS but doing IADLs can be a challenge for patients with dementia. While ADLs are basic self-care tasks, IADLs are more complex skills. These activities include the use of appliances, cooking, housekeeping, money management, shopping, leisure activities, and medication management.
Having minimal mobility at home can be risky for a dementia patient, even with a caregivers help. For example, a 70-year-old man can easily hurt himself trying to get his 180-pound sick wife to the toilet two or three times every day. Caregivers get stressed, too. Dealing with dementia patients might be their forte, but doing it alone can be very taxing.
Conversely, assisted living communities are equipped with facilities intended for dementia patients, which are far better than your own home. They are primarily designed to support dementia patients and prevent them from getting into any accident 24/7. If you are putting you and your caregivers overall well-being at risk, its time to give an assisted living residency a call.
Pay Attention To Your Loved Ones Changing Physical Needs
When caring for people with dementia, most of the attention goes toward a loved ones changing mental state, especially memory problems. But dementia patients also have changing physical needs that sometimes get missed or mistaken for behavioral problems from dementia.
Keep an eye out for changes in:
- The ability to dress oneself. This means caregivers should purchase clothes that are easy to wear, and that wont cause skin irritation.
- The ability to communicate or even speak Remaining flexible and finding different ways to communicate can make a world of difference.
- Eating and swallowing. Pureed foods can be a blessing should this occur.
Learn The Art Of Distraction
Sometimes things just dont work out. Your loved one may get triggered by something and end up causing more problems than you can handle. In cases like this, its easier to distract them with something different.
You can use anything to distract them. Ask your loved one what they would rather have for dinner, what they need from the store, or talk about something that is happening in the neighborhood. Your goal is the shift their focus off the event that is triggering bad behavior.
Ensure The Right Nutrition
It is easy for someone with dementia to forget to eat balanced and nutritious meals, making them susceptible to deficiencies and malnutrition, so youll need to also keep track of their diet. Due to an inability to express what they want at times, a person with dementia may not be able to say they are hungry or ask for what they need. Keep food and snacks and drinks readily available and visible to them so they can help themselves to what they need, without having to constantly struggle with asking. A person with dementia may lose their sense of smell so stronger flavors and more seasoning may help them keep up their appetites.
Dont Forget To Check With A Doctor
Someone living with dementia may not have the capabilities to communicate what they want or need. Its going to be up to you to figure that out. The problem is, sometimes their behavior can be caused by pain or a medical condition.
If your loved one is acting out and you cant find a trigger, its a good idea to check with a doctor. They will be able to examine them to look for an underlying medical cause. Things can get better simply by adjusting medication.
If someone is in good health, then they are less likely to act out during the day.
How To Talk To Someone With Dementia Alzheimer’s Or Memory Loss
Communicating with a person with memory loss can be difficult, but the right strategies can bridge the gap and foster a more fulfilling relationship between you and your patient or loved one.
Those struggling to communicate with a person who has memory loss are not alone. As many as four million people in the US may have Alzheimer’s, and, as our population ages, that number is expected to increase. Anyone who is a senior caregiver is likely to be affected and will need to understand how to cope with what is happening.
Memory loss associated with aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s typically doesnt happen overnight. Slowly, little-by-little, it sneaks up, until one day, family members realize that they can no longer communicate in the same way with the person they’ve known for years. They suddenly can’t rely on their words and their sentences dont match the situation.
Because we cannot see the diseasethe way we see a broken armits even more confusing when caregivers see how their patient and/or loved one will have good and bad days. The days when theyre alert and clear-headed make a caregiver hopeful. Then the bad days come, and family members and caregivers feel the pain of losing their patient and/or loved one all over again. This slow and normal progression of the disease makes communication a major challenge for caregivers.
This blog will share more information and advice to improve communication, including:
How To Manage Repeated Questions And Confusion
Asking questions over and over again, as well as not being able to understand why things are happening are symptoms and behaviors that come with dementia, according to the American Psychological Association.
- Communicate with simple, direct language.
- Use photos and other tangible items as props to explain situations.
- Remain calm and supportive.
- Use tools such as alarms, calendars, and to-do lists to help them remember tasks.
- Rely on lengthy explanations and reasoning, as this may further overwhelm your family member.
A Dementia Caregivers Experience Preserving Special Occasions
Every family has their own favorite special occasions that they enjoy celebrating. Some may not be big into Halloween, Valentines Day or Independence Day, while others go all out celebrating these events as well as personal milestones like birthdays and anniversaries. But when dementia creeps into the picture, many families are left wondering how to handle these special days.
For my parents, flowers and cards were always essential, especially on Valentines Day and their wedding anniversary. Sadly, after a failed brain surgery left my father with dementia, it was obvious that Dad could no longer participate in these celebrations the way he used to. As my mom aged, she began experiencing some memory loss as well.
I knew that, if he could make the decision, Dad would want to give Mom flowers and a card to show her how loved she was. I also knew Mom would want to reciprocate. The only problem was that neither of them was mentally capable of picking out a greeting card or arranging a flower delivery. Even with my gentle guidance, Dad couldnt understand what all the fuss was about.
So, I was faced with difficult questions that many other dementia caregivers have contemplated before. How do we celebrate special occasions when one or more of the family members involved arent mentally capable of participating? Do we pick up the slack and go through the motions to keep long-lasting traditions intact, or do we pretend the special day doesnt exist and let it pass by unobserved?
Take Care Of Problem Behaviors
Unfortunately, bad behavior comes with the territory when working with an Alzheimers sufferer. The good news is that these behaviors are typically triggered by something.
If you find your loved one being overly aggressive, not eating, or having trouble sleeping, try to keep track of what they were doing beforehand. There may be events happening previously that are triggering these behaviors.
If you can figure out the trigger and remove it, you can improve the stability of your loved one. Both of you will be happier as a result.
Do Try To Be Forgiving And Patient
Do not forget that dementia is the condition that results in irrational behavior and causes dementia sufferers to act the way they do. The patients demand plenty of patience and forgiveness from the people looking after them. Have the heart to let things go instead of carrying grudges around for something that the patient may not be in control of.
Keep Family Members Informed
This can be done in different ways. You can call and talk to people individually or you can write a family newsletter. Copy the letter and send it to different members of the family so you donât have to rewrite the same information to each one. Just remember, if you keep the lines of communication with your family and friends open, they will be able to understand more easily what you and your family member are going through. The better they understand, the more willing theyâll be to pitch in and help.
Caregiving isnât easy, and itâs important to make sure your aging family member does not take up all your energy. Make sure you find ways to pull together as a family and work together for everyoneâs benefit.
Caregiving And Loving Someone With Dementia
Over 16 million people in the United States alone care for someone with Alzheimers or dementia. While the caregiving journey can be rewarding, it is no secret that it can also be overwhelmingly challenging.
As the disease progresses, it becomes easier to forget that your loved one is still present. Many caregivers are frustrated by their loved ones inability to communicate their thoughts and their inability to remember faces and names. The disease eventually takes away independence so that caregivers become the feet, hands and mind of people struggling with dementia.
Many people who have the disease struggle with depression and some can become violent, further increasing frustration for caregivers. But, despite all these challenges, if you care for and love someone with dementia, it can be extremely rewarding and although it may not be obvious, your loved one is still there, behind the disease.
The Effect Of Dementia On Your Loved One
Dementia is a disease that causes cell death in the brain. This leads to memory loss, loss of physical abilities and behavioral or personality changes. Over time, family members may feel as if they are losing their loved ones to the disease, which is perhaps the hardest thing for loved ones to face.
According to the Alzheimers Association®, here are some things that individuals with dementia want their loved ones to know:
- Im still the same person I was before my diagnosis.
- My independence is important to me; ask me what Im still comfortable doing and what I may need help with.
- Its essential that I stay engaged. Invite me to do activities we both enjoy.
- Dont make assumptions because of my diagnosis. Dementia affects each person differently.
- Ask me how Im doing. Im living with a disease, just like cancer or heart disease.
- I can still engage in meaningful conversation. Talk directly to me if you want to know how I am.
- Dont pull away. Its OK if you dont know what to do or say. I value your friendship and support.
As a loved one of someone with dementia, its important to remember that your loved one still remains the same person they were and its still possible to have meaningful conversations, interactions, experiences and moments with your loved one, even as the disease progresses.
Caregiving In The Early Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia
In the early stages of Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia, your loved one may not need much caregiving assistance. Rather, your role initially may be to help them come to terms with their diagnosis, plan for the future, and stay as active, healthy, and engaged as possible.
Accept the diagnosis. Accepting a dementia diagnosis can be just as difficult for family members as it for the patient. Allow yourself and your loved one time to process the news, transition to the new situation, and grieve your losses. But dont let denial prevent you from seeking early intervention.
Deal with conflicting emotions. Feelings of anger, frustration, disbelief, grief, denial, and fear are common in the early stages of Alzheimers or dementiafor both the patient and you, the caregiver. Let your loved one express what theyre feeling and encourage them to continue pursuing activities that add meaning and purpose to their life. To deal with your own fears, doubts, and sadness, find others you can confide in.
Make use of available resources. There are a wealth of community and online resources to help you provide effective care on this journey. Start by finding the Alzheimers Association in your country . These organizations offer practical support, helplines, advice, and training for caregivers and their families. They can also put you in touch with local support groups.
Plan Specific Ways To Start The Conversation
Use these conversation starters:
- Ive been thinking through my own long-term care plans lately and I was wondering if you have any advanced planning tips for me?
- I was wondering if youve noticed the same changes in your behavior that Ive noticed?
- Would you want to know if I noticed any concerning changes in your behavior?
Dont Answer Questions Of Patient/loved Ones Regarding Bad Memories
People with Alzheimer’s often ask difficult questions, mostly about people who have passed away years ago. Its not helpful to remind the patient and/or loved one that a person theyre asking about has passed away. Rather than avoid the subject, you can say, He/shes not here right now, but tell me about him/her. Often the person with memory loss is looking for the sensation and security that they would have if their loved one was around.
Caregivers and/or family members should be helping patients and/or loved ones comfortable, safe, and protected. Elderly women, for example, who have had children commonly ask, Where are my babies? This question will often come up at meal time, when feeding the children was an important part of motherhood. Find a way to soothe their concern. You could say, The babies are sleeping.
As stated earlier, trying to bring a person with Alzheimer’s the present-day reality is not effective. Caregivers and/or family members should adapt to the patient and/or loved ones reality. Its ok to go anywhere in any time period in order to communicate.