Thanks to advances in medicine and nutrition in recent years, we are living longer than ever. But this increase in life expectancy also leads to an increase in the number of diseases, injuries and disabilities that affect older people. With that in mind, we at the local office of Visiting Angels in Salem have created this series of articles to keep our senior population and their families informed and offer practical advice for addressing the challenges faced by seniors and those who are aging. take care of it.
Dementia is the name of a group of cognitive disorders that can affect a person’s memory, emotions, behavior and reasoning ability. While the risk of developing dementia increases as we age – the National Institute on Aging reports that about a third of people age 85 and over live with some form of dementia – it is not a given that all older people will develop it in their lifetime.
There are many types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common form, and it is not uncommon for people to have more than one form of dementia at the same time. Symptoms of dementia differ from person to person, depending on the type of dementia present, but many people living with the disorder experience a disconnect from reality caused by their inability to remember things or reason properly.
These symptoms, which can also include emotional outbursts and behavioral problems, can be difficult for family members and caregivers as their loved one’s confusion leads to increased stress levels and feelings of helplessness or helplessness. frustration, both among family members and their loved ones. However, experts have offered several strategies for coping with dementia-related behaviors that can help family members work through confusion and reduce stressful situations.
Among these tips is the suggestion that family members avoid correcting loved ones whenever possible. Often correcting a person who believes they are still living in the past or talking about deceased family members who they believe to be still alive can lead to even greater confusion and feelings of anger and fear. Experts recommend entering into the reality of the loved one instead of trying to bring them back into our own. Continuing the conversation can help defuse the situation.
Likewise, if the person does not know what day it is, family members should avoid correcting them as this could worsen an episode of confusion.
Sometimes, however, correction is needed to keep a loved one with dementia safe. In such cases, it is best for the caregiver to keep it brief and state the correction as gently as possible. They may try to rephrase their correction as a suggestion rather than a command, such as suggesting they go out together rather than ordering their loved one not to go out alone.
It can often be best to find ways to redirect the person to prevent a potentially disruptive situation from escalating. Family members can suggest chores their loved one might enjoy or ask for help with a project around the house. Asking the person questions about topics they like to discuss can also help defuse a situation. When trying to redirect unwanted behaviors, it is important that the person feels safe and in control of their situation.
It is also important for family members and caregivers to be aware of the emotions their loved one with dementia may be feeling. Often, choosing the right words makes the difference between reassuring the person that everything is fine or escalating a tense situation. Sometimes a hug or a hold of a loved one’s hand can do more to calm the situation than words. What is most important is that the caregiver remains calm, even in emotionally charged situations, as their loved one will often feel and react to feelings of tension or frustration.
Caregivers and family members should also take some time out to take care of themselves. Finding ways to relax and avoid burnout can help them stop thinking about a dementia-related situation before it escalates.
Information provided by Visiting Angels, America’s Choice for Home Care. Visiting Angels’ non-medical home care services allow people to continue to enjoy independence from their daily routines and familiar surroundings. To book an appointment for a no-obligation home consultation, call 330-332-1203.