Dementia is one of the most difficult afflictions to live with for people who suffer from it and their loved ones. It can cause a lot of anger, frustration, and despair, as the struggle seemingly never ceases to end.
Despite the innovations in the field of medicine, it can still be quite tough to get a handle of dementia. This becomes even more worrisome when you consider that the number of cases are rising to the point that it can be considered a global emergency.
Part of what makes dementia so tricky to deal with is the fact that there is no permanent treatment for it. Couple this with a lack of understanding, and it’s easy to see why so many people have had so much trouble dealing with dementia when it occurs in their loved ones.
When it comes to dementia, we know that any form of help will come in handy. This is why we’ve prepared a short guide on dementia to help you understand it better. We’ve also added some tips to help you help your loved ones cope with this truly difficult situation.
Seniors and Dementia
Seniors and the elderly are one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to dementia. This isn’t at all surprising as a decline in brain function comes with aging. Given this, it’s best to be prepared with the knowledge to deal with dementia as it could prove to be useful down the line.
One way to better understand dementia is to know what causes it. The first thing you have to keep in mind is that dementia isn’t a disease. Dementia is a catch-all term used to describe waning brain functions. This commonly manifests as erratic behavior, short-term memory loss, and aphasia.
Several factors can cause dementia. Everything from traumatic brain injury to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can cause dementia, as these conditions can lead to a decline in brain function. Another important thing to note is that the severity of dementia can vary wildly among individuals.
Now, one of the most common causes of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. This is because Alzheimer’s disease causes proteins to build up in the brain. These proteins inhibit the nerve cells in the brain, which eventually lead to the cells dying.
When it comes to treating dementia the options are few and far between. In fact, Biogen’s drug clinical trial success was a rare win in the long history of dementia drug fails. To this day, few treatments have proved effective against dementia.
The lack of a real cure is what makes dementia so tricky. When it comes to treating dementia, all one can really hope for is to make the cognitive decline more manageable for individuals with dementia, as well as their loved ones.
Most of the medication such as donepezil and galantamine boost the brain’s chemical messengers associated with memory and judgment. Other medication may be prescribed to deal the mood changes and depression that come with dementia.
Considering the options for treating dementia are quite limited, doing all one can to prevent it and minimizing the risk may be the best option. Luckily, there have been studies that show that it’s possible to slow down (if not outright prevent) dementia.
When it comes to preventing dementia, focusing on overall health is the way to go. Lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly, eating healthy, and refraining from tobacco reduce the risk of dementia. Studies have also shown that good sleeping habits can also reduce the risk of dementia.
There have also been innovations when it comes to detecting dementia early. In fact, there are blood tests that can predict dementia that might be worth considering. This can help people better prepare for dementia and do all they can to either slow it down or prevent it.
Dealing With Dementia
While dealing with dementia will surely be difficult, this doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. To help you out we’ve prepared some tips that can help make the journey easier for those with loved ones who suffer from this condition.
Dementia can be quite frustrating for individuals who have it, as well as the people around them. This is why being patient is key when it comes to dealing with dementia. Now, we understand that this is easier said than done—but it’s not impossible.
When caring for someone with dementia is that there will be a lot of instances where you have to repeat basic information. This can range from the name of everyday objects to the names of loved ones. Remember to approach instances like this with a healthy dose of patience.
If you do find yourself losing patience, don’t do it in front of the other person. Getting mad will only aggravate the situation. A good alternative would be to take a short break and come back to the situation with a clear mind.
Stick To A Routine
Routines will be key when dealing with dementia. By sticking to day-to-day routines, you’re making it easier for those afflicted with dementia to familiarize themselves with the situation. Scheduling will also provide individuals with dementia a sense of structure and clarity.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should do everything for them. In fact, the opposite is true. You’ll want to involve them as much as they are able. This will help give them a sense of autonomy and will surely go a long way when it comes to their overall well-being.
Ask For Help
Lastly, know that you don’t have to do this alone. You are surrounded by people who love and care about you. This doesn’t end because of dementia.
For people caring for individuals with dementia, joining a support group could be quite helpful. Hearing about others’ experiences and how they got through it could be insightful when it comes to dealing with dementia within your own family.
We hope the information in this article will be of help to you and your loved ones. If you need more information about how to improve the lives of seniors and senior care in general, don’t hesitate to contact Senior Strong today!
Nathan Justice manages community outreach programs and forums that help many senior citizens. He completed a counseling program at the University of Maryland’s Department of Psychology.