WHAT IS DEMENTIA?
Dementia is a condition which gradually causes a person’s brain function to decline. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia. Dementia can affect the way a person speaks, thinks, feels, and behaves. The symptoms of dementia include:
- Memory loss
- Slower thinking speed
- Struggling in social situations
- Difficulty planning and organising
- Lack of interest in usual activities
- Personality changes
- Feeling confused even in familiar places
LIVING WITH DEMENTIA
Different people respond to the challenges of dementia differently. Here are some methods which have helped others:
- Following a routine. Doing things at the same time daily or weekly can reassure the person and stimulate the memory
- Pinning up notes to remind you to do things
- Putting up labels and signs on cupboards, drawers, or doors. This can help to limit disorientation in familiar spaces
- Carrying a notebook to write down tasks
- Putting important things, like glasses or keys, in one place so you know where to find them
- Staying in touch with family and friends, to avoid becoming isolated
- Carrying a card that can let people know that you have dementia. This can include contact details for someone you trust, such as a family member
CARING FOR SOMEONE WITH DEMENTIA
Looking after someone who has dementia is often challenging. It is important to look after your own health as well.
As a caregiver, it is important to make the person you are caring for as comfortable, as happy, and as safe as possible. Remember that the amount of care a person with dementia needs will increase as the disease progresses. You should prepare for this and plan ahead where possible.
Ask for help if you are struggling to care for someone by yourself. You may be able to share the role with other family members or friends. There may also be medical support available to you. If you require specific advice, contact a doctor.
It can be difficult to see a person you care for struggling with tasks they used to be able to do. It is important to focus on supporting them to do what they still can. Aim to focus on the small positives and enjoy quality time with the person.