- Dementia leads to memory loss which worsens with time
- Dementia symptoms can be divided into 7 stages
- Regular exercise is essential for patients with dementia
Ageing is a natural phenomenon which includes growth and maturity of the body and in this process, many physical and psychological changes take place. People in their silver years may become dependent and need a lot of care and attention from their family and loved ones. If they are in good health and living independently, their caregivers may not feel any dramatic changes. On the other hand, if the person becomes a victim of age-related illnesses like dementia, the family must take over and improve their quality of living.
Dementia: Watch out for early signs and symptoms
Dementia is an illness characterised by deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from normal ageing. There could be lot of challenges in getting your parents to the doctor, gaining their cooperation, convincing them to do their day to day chores and communicating with them. Even though you know your loved one's dementia behaviors are symptoms of a disease and not intentional, dealing with them is often emotionally and physically challenging.
Dementia is one of the main reasons that seniors lose their independence. Being aware of the signs of early dementia may allow you to recognise the symptoms. Early diagnosis can assist you in getting help and accessing treatment for your loved one. Early symptoms also depend on the type of dementia and can vary from person to person.
Here are few early and common symptoms signs of dementia-
- Problem related to memory, mostly remembering recent events
- Increasing confusion
- Problems in concentration
- Personality or behaviour changes
- Loss of interest in activities and depression in some cases
- Loss of ability to do everyday tasks
Usually, people fail to recognise that these symptoms and mistakenly assume that such behaviour is a normal part of the ageing process. Symptoms may also develop gradually and go unnoticed for a long time. Also, people may refuse to act, even when they know something is wrong. Noticing potential signs of dementia can be stressful in some cases.
Here are tips for the caregivers to deal with dementia patient
1. Ask simple, answerable questions- Ask them one question at a time which are simple and give them time to respond. Refrain from asking open-ended questions.
2. Avoid distractions when communicating with your parent- Try to find a place and time to talk when there aren't a lot of distractions present around. This will allow your loved one to focus their mind on the conversation.
3. Don't fire questions at the senior or ask complicated questions- Do not ask back to back and complicated questions to them. Treat them like a kid and give them their time and space to respond.
4. Evaluate your attitude- As a caregiver you need to understand the problems of your loved one and not show your frustration while you are with them even if they resist help. It is common to get frustrated sometimes but do not even show it through your body language. Many caregivers are not aware of the power of non-verbal communication even with dementia patients.
5. Focus on the positives- Discuss with them what activities they can still do independently. Perhaps they are still able to prepare their meals or do the laundry. List all the normal activities they can manage, but then have them tell you what is starting to become more difficult, like paying the bills or climbing stairs. If they can admit some problem areas, then you may be able to reach a compromise.
6. Listen more than you talk- Listen to them more than you talk. This will help you in understanding what is bothering them and making them stubborn. Sometimes you will have to read between the lines
7. Pay attention- You need to pay extra attention to keep an eye on their symptoms and progress. As soon as you can identify changes in the behavior, you will be able to deal with them properly.
8. Laughter helps- Laughter is therapeutic for most people. Laughter can help them in relieving stress. Laughter can also help you let go of the pressure you are under as your loved one's caretaker.
9. Physical exercise- Research shows that being active can slow down brain aging. Exercising regularly can stimulate blood circulation to the brain. Helping the person your care for with a daily workout for at least 20 minutes can result in giving them clarity and bringing their surroundings into greater focus.
Keeping a family member with dementia calm can go a long way in improving their quality of life as well as yours. Caretakers should remember that while being responsible for the constant care of an aging loved one can be difficult, if handled with compassion, it can be a bonding experience for both. Consult your doctor immediately if you see any of the above symptoms for medical help.
(Dr. Guruprasad H, Senior Consultant, Neurology, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital Yeshwanthpur)
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