Facts and Myths: Dealing with Dementia
More often than not we see either in public or firsthand how an individual caring for someone with Dementia can seem harsh or short toward the person. Their demeanor is cold, they seem demanding and they appear frustrated; how does the person with Dementia respond? Well, not-surprisingly, they respond in a similar manner. Here is a list of facts and myths associated with facts about Dementia, managing Dementia behaviors and treatment for Dementia.
Remain Calm. FACT. According to the media, and verified by research sources, patient’s with Dementia are often like children who can pick up on bad vibes. When a caregiver creates an environment that feels hectic or is too overstimulating (ex: noisy, bright), the individual will respond negatively. Outbursts are a common way that individuals with Dementia show they are overwhelmed.
Pick and Choose Arguments. FACT. There are helpful ways in which a caretaker can help to prevent outbursts and frustration. One way in which this can be done is first by looking at how you approach the person with Dementia. If you show that you are upset or you’re being forceful they immediately pick up on it and react. According to Andrew Voss, from Today’s Caregiver Magazine, approaching someone with Dementia with a calm, reassuring voice and positive body language can be of great benefit. It is important to remember this during all interactions with your loved one. When an argument is beginning to arise, it is important to not argue with them; but instead to accommodate them.
Morning Routines Become Difficult. FACT. As your family member begins to forget the simple things like putting a shirt on correctly or how to open the toothpaste, it is common that you both may become frustrated. A way in which frustration can be reduced is by providing environmental cues to help promote a routine. For example, if you were trying to get your mother to brush her teeth and comb her hair, you may choose to place sticky notes on the mirror to jog her memory about what to do or where to begin. According to Andrew Voss, establishing a routine is primary to reducing confusion and promoting independence.
Treatment Can Reduce Dementia. MYTH! Most forms of Dementia cannot be cured however, the symptoms may be managed and the progression may be slowed. Dementia cannot be reversed. The best treatment for Dementia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is early treatment of symptoms, a healthy diet, increasing activity and medicinal treatment. If early intervention is not established, your loved one may decline at a more rapid rate. Early intervention can reduce risk of institutionalizing, according to the CDC.
Memory Loss is a Normal Part of Aging. MYTH! Forgetting small things such as your waitresses name at the diner you ate at two mornings ago is completely normal. However, forgetting family members, forgetting to turn the stove off, or forgetting to eat are not considered normal or harmless. Memory loss that affects everyday function should be addressed by a doctor immediately.
Dealing with behaviors related to Dementia can be overwhelming and frustrating; but it doesn’t have to be. Some simple tips on how to deal with behaviors and how to change the environment can make a huge difference in the response received.
Alzheimer’s Association. (2019). Myths. Retrieved from https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers/myths
Chapman, D.P., Williams, S., Strine, T., Anda, R., & Moore, M. (2006). Dementia and its implications for public health. Preventing Chronic Disease, Vol. 3(2), 1-13. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1563968/pdf/PCD32A34.pdf
Voss, A. (2017). Caregiver tips for dementia management. Retrieved from http://library.neit.edu:2216/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=6&sid=7463462c-ff3e-4cb3-a256-3b95724511bf%40sdc-v-sessmgr03