The drastic changes in cognitive function and behavior that dementia causes can make dementia patients quite difficult to care for. Knowing what to expect from dementia patients and the best ways to help them deal with their symptoms can make it much easier to provide sufficient care. Here are three common problems that dementia sufferers face and what you can do to help manage their symptoms.
For both dementia patients and caretakers, one of the most frustrating aspects of the disease is memory loss. People with dementia will frequently forget events and conversations from just a few days or even hours ago, while their long-term memory is usually less affected.
One of the best ways to ease frustrations about recent forgetfulness is to turn the patient's mind to more concrete memories. Talking to the patient with a smile and a calm voice about their past can help to ground them and make them feel more comfortable.
Paranoia is a large issue for dementia patients, as they will often hallucinate that strangers are in the room and feel threatened by them. This can drive them to hide money and other important belongings. When they forget where they have hidden these items later, they will often conclude that they have been stolen by one of the threatening hallucinations.
As a dementia caretaker, you should familiarize yourself with the patient's favorite places to hide belongings so you can retrieve items when the patient forgets about them. Let the patient check on their hiding spot regularly to assure them that their items have not been stolen, and allow them to keep a small amount of money or a favorite item on their person at all times so that they feel secure.
Sundowning is a term that describes the common worsening of dementia symptoms at night. Sundowning can cause patients to lose sleep as their paranoia worsens or they get restless and feel the need to pace or roam.
Making sure that dementia patients get the rest they need during the night requires a significant amount of diligence throughout the day. Try to limit napping, caffeine, and sugar during the daytime so that the patient will be ready to sleep when it is time for bed. To help the patient feel more relaxed at night, you can turn on night lights, close curtains and blinds, and play music softly, or stay with the patient until they fall asleep if it makes them feel more comfortable. In some cases, a prescription sleeping aid is the only option that will relieve sundowning and prevent the patient from staying awake late into the night.
Caring for a senior with dementia will always be challenging, but these tips will help you create a relaxed environment and relieve the most frustrating dementia symptoms. If you think your loved one will benefit from senior home care services, contact a company like The Larchmont Employment Agency for assistance.