Dementia is growing rapidly here in the US and across the world. Dementia is a classification of symptoms that include, but are not limited to, problems with memory, judgement, thinking, word finding, personality changes and changes in behavior. Dementia is NOT a normal part of aging. People diagnosed with dementia are most frequently over the age of 65 however, it can affect people as young as their 20’s or 30’s
There are over 100 different diagnoses’ that cause dementia. The type of disease that causes dementia is determined through medical and mental status tests. An MRI or CT scan may be used to look at your brain to help identify what type of dementia you have. Treatment and medication can stabalize the symptoms but they do not stop the disease process. There is no cure for dementia.
It is advised that you speak with your family and an attorney to name someone to make decisions for you in case you become unable to make your wishes known.
For more information refer to the Legal and Financial Section of this websie by clicking here.
Experience 12 Minutes In Alzheimer’s Dementia
Even if you have been diagnosed with dementia, with the proper education and support, you can still have a
good life filled with purpose and meaning .
A familiar routine is necessary for those who live with dementia
- Wake, bathe, dress, eat and go to sleep at the same time everyday.
- If possible, use the same familiar caregivers.
- Eat familiar food prepared in the same way.
- Engage in activities that have brought pleasure in the past-favorite tv shows, music, dance, art
Creating a safe environment is important
- Keep the environment free of clutter
- Timers can be used to discretely limit when the stove or other electric appliances can be turned on.
- Car keys can be removed from sight. It may be necessary to remove the car “for repairs”.
- Alarm doors to go outside.
- Lock the door to the basement stairs or other areas where a fall may be deadly.
- Install childproof door latches where poisons or cleaning products are kept.
- Assist with financial tasks.
Cues to time and place are helpful
- Opening or closing curtains and blinds with daylight helps to orient to day vs. night.
- Large easy to read clocks will help with time of day.
- Large calendars help with dates.
- Written cues may help ex: 8:00AM Eat Breakfast, 12PM Eat Lunch 2PM watch tv
In addition to dementia, hearing loss and visual impairment can also make communicating difficult.
- Approach from the front-it can be startling if you pop up from the back or side
- Speak face to face and make sure your mouth can be seen. We naturally read lips to help us determine what is being said to us.
- Speak at a normal tone or slightly louder in order to be heard. Don’t yell-it distorts the sound of your voice and distorts your mouth.
- Use simple words, phrases, and directions. Allow time for the person to process what was said. Repeat as needed.
- Tell them who you are and what you are going to do before you do it.
- Hand gestures, miming and sometimes singing can be effective.
- Don’t argue, try to redirect-the person may be “somewhere else”-childhood, early adulthood etc
- “Therapeutic lies” are acceptable for example: An elder with dementia may be looking for their Mom-don’t tell them their mom has been dead-instead tell them Mom went to the store and wants them to stay here where they are safe.
Communication for both of you may be frustrating-remember to be patient.
Wandering may increase as dementia progresses. Provide information to your local police department BEFORE an emergency. Include a recent photo, medical information and people or places that the person may be trying to get to. Alert trusted neighbors. Register the person with the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return Program.
Locating Device technology is advancing quickly. Many companies offer GPS or Radio Frequency location services. Consider if the device can be worn all the time (comfortable, waterproof, easy to clean?) or depends on the person to take a device with them?
Who activates the location service? the individual? you? the company? or the police? Does it depend on cellular service or satellites? Will it work if the person wandering is inside a steel building or concrete garage or in water?
It is important that Caregivers care for themselves. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
For information on Caregiver support visit the Caregiver Support Group page by clicking here.
Dementia Related Links
Alzheimer’s Disease & other Dementia’s
Rhode Island Chapter
Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island
Lewy Body Dementia Association
Merck Manual Consumer Version
Dementia – General
National Institute of Aging
Basics of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Types of Dementia
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Frontotemporal Dementia Information Page
American Parkinson Disease Association
Rhode Island Chapter