• The Dos and Don'ts of Dealing with Dementia

    by Caroline Ryther
    on Jun 25th, 2018

Knowing various facts and reading about dementia is one thing, but actually comprehending how to care for a loved one suffering from this disorder is something completely different. According to data from The Alzheimer's Association, 15 million Americans care for someone with dementia.

For most of those 15 million families and caregivers, dealing with dementia presents an uncharted territory and can be extremely challenging in more ways than one.

Understanding why people with dementia act the way they do can not only be difficult, but also incredibly frustrating, and you need to keep in mind at all times that their brain is going through changes they have no control over. A person with dementia can even become aggressive and violent, but it’s up to you to learn how to manage their actions as calmly as possible and protect yourself.

In order to make this learning period a bit less stressful for you, we have put together a list of dos and don’ts that should help you become more familiar with how you should deal with a loved one suffering from this devastating condition.

Prepare for an Inevitable Change in Your Relationship

As their health deteriorates, your loved one is going to become a different person, someone who won’t recognize you in some moments and who, in turn, you won’t recognize either.

Do accept the fact that the relationship you have with this person is going to change over time and that you can’t affect it in any way.

Don’t distance yourself from the person in question and convince yourself that his relationship can’t be fulfilling and meaningful. You might have some trouble adjusting, but you will still be able to enjoy the time you spend with them.

Know That They Might Be Aggressive Towards You

Like we already mentioned above, people suffering from dementia experience a great deal of emotions—from anger and confusion, to paranoia, fear, and sadness. These emotions often lead to aggressive and sometimes event violent actions on their behalf.

Do remain calm if and when they display aggressive behavior. Try to understand what’s making them feel the way they’re feeling and then do your best to shift their focus to something else, and de-escalate the situation.

Don’t be contradictory or engage in an argument. Remember that their aggressive behavior is not deliberate and that what they need from you the most in those moments is understanding.

Be Ready to Subtly Help Them Even When They Don’t Want You to

A lot of dementia patients refuse help with their daily tasks, claiming that they can easily do them on their own. They do this out of pride, fear, or simply a wish to remain in control as much as they can, but sometimes you will need to step in anyway and assist them.

Do ask if they need help in a subtle, kind way. Offer to help them finish the task more quickly and guide them through the process until they are done.

Don’t focus on their incompetence or blame them for not succeeding to complete the task. This will only embarrass and agitate them, and put them on the defensive. Make sure not to bombard them with numerous tasks at once, as well—try breaking them into smaller activities instead.

Treat Them with Respect No Matter How You Feel

It’s easy to forget ourselves when the going gets tough and start treating our loved ones poorly—even if they are completely healthy. When it comes to people with dementia, it’s more important than anything to be respectful towards them, because their self-worth is already low.

Do use your loved one’s name when speaking to and about them, respect their privacy, and include them in conversations. Make sure that your tone of voice, facial expressions, and physical touch all convey your feelings of affection.

Don’t brush their feelings aside, or scold and criticize them. Try to avoid invading their privacy as much as you can, because this way you will gain their trust and they will notice that you care about how they feel.

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself at All Times

Providing care for people with various disorders and diseases can get really tiresome, really fast. If you want to be there for them and help as much as you can, then you need to learn how to take care of yourself, as well.

Do take some time off, if needed, to rest and recuperate. Ask another family member or a friend to give you a helping hand, even for a couple of hours, if you start feeling the strain of taking care of a patient with dementia. Make sure to sleep well, eat right, and exercise.

Don’t skip out on your own appointments because you’re taking care of someone and don’t let the stress eat you out. If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of severe stress or anxiety, be sure to go to your doctor immediately.


Does your loved one or someone you know suffer from dementia? Dr. Best and his team have been working with cognitive impairment patients for years now, and have successfully treated them with hyperbaric oxygen treatments and etanercept injections.

 

Schedule your consultation today:

Phone: 847-306-8938

Email: pm@mind.md

 

Author Caroline Ryther

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