How to manage the well-being of a loved one with dementia
How to manage the well-being of someone with dementia can be a tall order.
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of symptoms that accompany a number of conditions that affect brain function.
Dementia symptoms may include problems with speech, perception, cognitive skills or personality. Alzheimer’s disease is only one of the many conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia.
Understanding and promoting proper care for someone with dementia is becoming a more prevalent concern for the healthcare community as the aging population grows. Managing a loved ones well-being includes many things.
Providing A Safe Environment
Family caregivers can ensure that the affected person has a comfortable and safe environment that allows him to function easily on an everyday basis. Measures such as ensuring that electrical cords and area rugs are safely secured can help prevent falls. Burns can be prevented by keeping water temperatures within a safe range. Lighters, matches and other fire hazards should be used only under the supervision of the caregiver. Liberal use of locks on cabinets, doors and hazardous areas of kitchen or garage can help to prevent accidents.
Part of the nature of dementia is its progressive nature. Symptoms may be very slight at the beginning of the condition and grow increasingly more severe over time. At first, only those familiar with the person may notice the deterioration of cognitive function. It is extremely important for the affected person to have regular assessments of his mental condition so that support services can be implemented for his safety and well-being.
Support for Family Caregivers
Usually, a spouse or child of the affected person takes on the duties of care, and this arrangement can often create the best environment for the affected person to make him feel comfortable and secure. However, other arrangements such as day care or respite care in a facility may be necessary to relieve the burden of caring for affected patients. These arrangements can often be a good choice for both patients as family members as the disease progresses.
Managing Physical Problems
Dementia patients experience not only mental problems but also increasing physical problems as their brain becomes affected by the condition. Proper pain management can be difficult to determine in these patients and can have a significant effect on their mental processes. Careful assessment and supervision of medications can help to provide the correct balance between relieving painful symptoms and ensuring that mental function is not affected.
Encouraging Individual Interests
A Norwegian company is finding encouraging results with individually tailored activities for patients with dementia. They are learning that engaging patients in activities, both physical and mental, that are meaningful to them. These activities serve to hold off the depression and apathy that are common in dementia and slow down mental deterioration. The activities must be engaged in at least twice each week with frequent mental assessments of the patient. To relieve family members of some of the care of these patients, caregivers are matched with the patient to attend them while engaging in these enriching activities that help to increase function and improve well being.
Memory Care Facilities
As dementia progresses, the affected person may become too disabled for home care. A number of senior care companies provide residential memory care for people severely affected by dementia. Family members should research a number of facilities before choosing a care facility for the patient. References and visits to these facilities will allow family members to get a comprehensive look at proposed care for their loved one.
Author: Ryan Hughes writes about Health and Aging.