Monday, December 17, 2012

Dealing with Dementia?

Many are dealing with a Mom or Dad with dementia. Most tell us that these are not the people they once knew.
Remember that with dementia, cognitive skills are being lost. One loses logic, reasoning, problem solving and even basic decision making, and this can take its toll on those around them.
If you are taking care of a loved one that has been diagnosed with dementia, you may need to train on ways to cope with the changes that are going on so that your emotions stay intact.

If you are a primary caregiver;
1.            Do not argue:  With a patient with dementia, you can never win an argument. It doesn’t matter; do not try to reason with them. Let them win and love them.
2.            Take a break: If you do find yourself in an argument, take a break. Count to 10, walk away, and get some help. A person diagnosed with dementia will most likely forget the argument in a few minutes. It’s not worth the stress. Take it easy. It's also important that as a caregiver, you get help. Caregiving is a 24/7 job and you need a break from time to time.

3.            Learn to listen: You may find this difficult, especially if a loved one is not making sense, or appear to be making something up that is not true. It’s also hard to listen to the same story or comment over and over again. Be patient, have empathy and reassure yourself that it is going to be ok.
4.            Be aware of harsh or mean behavior: Change can be difficult for ones with dementia. Many things can spark anger; cold or heat, sounds, faces, sounds like phones, doorbells, etc. Often fear is represented in anger, be aware and prepared to ask for help if the behavior gets harmful to you, children, pets or even to the individual.
5.            Do not take things personally: Remember dementia is a disease. Do not blame or get mad at your loved one. Focus on enjoying the time you have with them and redirect when situations occur.  
6.            Get help: See their doctor and find out if there are any medications that can reduce anxiety. Physicians suggest that there are medications that can be very effective in assisting dementia patients with the anxiety. Timothy Benkula of CareBuilders at Home suggests that seeking emotional support for as little as four hours a week can give families the support they need to improve quality time with their loved one.
7.            Have a plan: According to AARP survey, 89% of all seniors want to stay in their own home. Home care is the most affordable option for families as well. Learn about all your options by calling in a professional that can help you free of charge. Some companies offer a free consultation to help you find your way. It’s costs you nothing to make a call to get an advocate on your side. Never pay for this service.
8.            Finally, remember the good times. Find the photo albums; remember the photos that used to be printed? Look at them together, take the moments that you can get and savor the love that will always exist between you.

If your loved ones still have good clarity, discuss options with them and seek out professionals that can guide you now so that you are prepared for anything.

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