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Enhancing Quality of Life: Best Practices for Care for Dementia Patients

Enhancing Quality of Life: Best Practices for Care for Dementia Patients

It is undeniably difficult when someone you know and love develops dementia, for both them and the people who care for them. Helping a loved one with dementia on your own is a noble pursuit, but ultimately a more intensive challenge than people initially perceive it to be. Dementia is a complex issue that varies from person to person, which means it should be left in the hands of professionals.

Contact us to speak with one of our friendly team members about matching you or your loved one up with a professional who understands what excellence in dementia care looks like. To learn more on your own first, read below.

Essential Knowledge for Dementia Care

Though it is often referred to as just one disease, dementia is actually a symptom that encompasses many other symptoms. Acting as an umbrella term, it is used to refer to most kinds of cognitive decline from aging and various diseases or conditions which damage our brains. 

Because it covers such a wide range of cognitive issues, which come from different sources, dementia is split into different types. If you know someone in Alzheimer’s care, you already know one of the most common types well: Alzheimer’s Disease; it’s often misused as an interchangeable term for dementia. Other forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy Bodies, and frontotemporal dementia. 

The main distinction between each type of dementia is what causes the damage, resulting in these symptoms, or in what part of the brain the damage occurs. Every type of dementia can present memory loss, but dementia does not always present this way. Sometimes the term “dementia” is used as shorthand for memory loss, but this is not always accurate.

The Dos and Don'ts of Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care

DOs

Engage them in mentally stimulating activities. While looking after dementia patients, you can help slow down disease progression of some types of dementia with intelligence-based activities like sudoku puzzles or crosswords. Similarly, games of strategy, reading, and socialization can also slow the progression of various types of dementia. 

Be patient. Depending on how much dementia has affected a person’s cognition, they may behave strangely. Certain types can affect their personality, making previously calm, rational people become agitated, angry, and difficult to de-escalate. Some dementia types can also diminish a person’s inhibitions, resulting in certain actions no longer being taboo to them. Examples include swearing around children and acts of violence. 

Another aspect people can struggle with is memory loss, and just how much that affects a person’s day-to-day functioning. Simply put, when someone you know has dementia-related memory loss, you have to assume that they may not remember something you said or did. Regardless of your emotional response, dementia care recipients have little control over how their disease manifests and deserve to be met with kindness and compassion.

Treat them with respect and dignity. Just because someone can’t remember what you said to them, doesn’t mean they won’t remember how you made them feel. A person’s emotional memory often stays intact, even if their short-term memory is no longer working the way it should. So, while dignity and respect should be at the forefront of all care, don’t think that memory loss means your pricklier days are fully forgotten. Treating the patients with respect and dignity establishes confidence in them and helps you connect with them easily.

Prepare brain-healthy meals. Good overall nutrition, plus an emphasis on omega-3 fatty acids, can help with proper brain functioning. As with most issues in health, proper hydration also makes a difference.

DON’Ts

Correct errors in memory unless absolutely necessary. Contradicting an individual’s memory or attempting to remind them of events that have happened in the past, especially the deaths of loved ones, can lead to confusion, frustration, and other negative emotions. While the memory may fade again, the feeling of loss will remain, causing more confusion than the correction is worth.

Assume you know everything about how their dementia behaves. Even if you’ve worked with people with dementia before, carers for dementia will still need to adjust their approach from one person to another. There will likely be similarities, but we do care recipients a disservice when we treat them all the same.

Plan more complex activities for later in the day. While not all “common knowledge” about dementia is entirely true, the phenomena of “sundowning” mostly is. For reasons researchers have yet to fully understand, people with dementia experience greater cognitive decline in the later hours of the day.

Finding Dementia Care at Home You Can Trust

With this information, you likely now understand how complex dementia is, as well as see why offering care to a loved one on your own isn’t the best idea. Family should stay family, for both your sakes and for your loved one’s health.

Contact us today to find an at-home care professional who can offer long-term care for dementia patients. Let’s work together to make you and your loved ones feel safe and confident.

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