Living with Dementia


Tips for Caregivers on Loved Ones with Dementia

It seems like yesterday at times, this individual that now requires help bathing was just helping you to get ready for prom….

There is no question, dementia is a tough disease. It is a disease that has a spectrum of presentations.

The most common indicator is a family member or members report gradual short-term
memory loss. Individuals that get lost when driving home even though they have lived in the same house for 30 years. They may leave the stove on for hours when boiling an egg. You may notice them paying bills or not paying bills that previously they were able to manage. For example, writing checks to programs on t.v. repeatedly that are asking people to send money. Or purchasing a water softener that someone is selling over the phone even though they already have one. These are signs that something may be changing cognitively.

People with dementia may progress down the spectrum to inability to verbalize, inability to bathe oneself, inability to walk, inability to eat, etc. It is very difficult to watch a loved one go through anything remotely close to this. You will require support and time away to get a break. It is ok to get a break!!

It is not easy to look at a person and they look the same but mentally they have changed so

It is better to establish some things early on to avoid difficult decisions later. A few things to consider:
1. Who will be the health care surrogate?
2. Is there a Will or an Advanced directive in place?
3. What are their wishes long term? Do they prefer care givers in the home or will they eventually require a long-term care facility?
4. What are their wishes pertaining to artificial nutrition?
5. Who will be your support network?
6. What type of insurance plans are in place and how do you get access to them?

There have been many efforts attempting to find a “cure” for dementia. There are things in the works but at present there is no consistent “cure” in the medical field for dementia. There are medications that are available to “slow progression” but not to cure. Being prepared as much as possible may help to get you through a little easier. Although nothing about dementia is easy….

Try to not get frustrated when a question is asked repeatedly or a behavior that is uncharacteristic presents. It is part of the disease. It is generally not the person attempting to agitate or anger you.
Know that you are doing your best. Whether or not your loved one can express their gratitude, they appreciate your love and help. Sometimes they can get frustrated too when they know things are not right.  They are frustrated when realizing they have to have help in things previously they were independent with in the past. Continue to get support and periods of rest and relaxation as much as possible so that you can be the best and healthiest you!

You shall rise before the gray-headed and honor the aged, and you shall fear your God

Leviticus 19:32

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