Understanding and Caring for Seniors with Dementia and Memory Loss
By Jeremy Grant
Growing older has many benefits. You don't have to show up to a job each day unless you choose to. You can sleep in, and your grandchildren think you are the best person on the planet. On the duller side of things, part of the aging process is the body slowing down and the mind not being as sharp as it once was. Some seniors may wonder why they cannot remember their dog's name or forget their wedding anniversary. Many wonder if they have developed dementia or Alzheimer's disease when this happens. Not everyone will, but for those who do, understanding the disease and their progress will empower your senior to remain in their home for as long as possible with dementia or memory care professionals.
How to Help Your Senior with Dementia and Memory Loss
You can support your senior with dementia or memory loss. It starts with understanding the signs and symptoms, developing a coping strategy, and ensuring you care for yourself as a caregiver. Before you start worrying over your parent’s diagnosis, consider these suggestions:
1. Dementia Signs and Symptoms
Dementia has many signs and symptoms. Some are subtle; others are not. Understanding what to look for will aid you in helping your loved one as the disease progresses. Here are a few symptoms to be on the lookout for:
- Changes in Mood and Behaviour: You might notice that your mother has stopped being interested in the emotional, social, spiritual, or physical side of her life. She may still have love, joy, fear, and sadness, but you will see a shift.
- Experiences of Delusions and Hallucinations: Dad may think he has a cat living in his home when there is none. That is a delusion or a false belief. On the other hand, he may hallucinate, where his senses may take over and he will see or hear things that are not there.
- Disorientation and Losing Their Way: Sometimes, a senior with dementia will seem disoriented and wander from home. They might also start pacing in an attempt to find something, or they may pace aimlessly.
- Repetitive Behaviours: You might find your loved one continually repeating questions or rubbing their hands together without stopping. They may have little to no control over these actions.
As you understand the symptoms and how they will affect your senior loved one, you can start to work on a strategy.
Learn more about Dementia Signs and Symptoms
2. Success Strategies for Taking Care of Dementia Patients
To help your aging senior with dementia and memory loss remain in their home, you need some success strategies. These tips are a good place to start to ensure Mom or Dad remains safe:
- Reduce the Risk of Falls: It may be time to assess their home and look for those items that may cause a fall. For example, wires crossing the floor with throw rugs on top can cause one to trip.
- Research the Disease: You will be better prepared for the different dementia stages by researching how the condition progresses. This disease is not intuitive and affects different individuals differently, so relying on your intuition may not be a wise idea.
- Bring Family in on the Caregiving: You will need support. It is a good idea to explain to your children what is going on with their grandparents. They may assist with chores to ease some of your burdens.
- Know When It Is Time for Long-Term Care: Part of your research will reveal when it might be time for Mom or Dad to go to long-term care. The needs of your loved one will dictate when this should happen.
Even with a solid strategy, handling a dementia diagnosis can be tricky unless you take control of things.
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3. Dealing with Dementia Diagnosis
No one wants to hear their physician suggest that they or their loved one has dementia or Alzheimer's. It is easy to think that the slightest mistaken name may mean dementia. That is not always the case. However, if your senior does receive the diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's, you help them with the following suggestions:
- Encourage Mom to focus on what she can do: It could be easy to let Mom sit in her chair, but instead, she should focus on what she can do. It will help her remain independent for as long as possible.
- Help Dad Stay Physically Active and Eating Healthy: Keeping up with nutrition and staying physically fit will help your dad. He will feel better about life and will be able to enjoy many bright days ahead.
- Learn Everything You Can About the Disease: Knowledge is power. Being the caregiver of someone with dementia and memory loss will be difficult. When you understand what you will be up against, you will be more capable of handling what is soon coming your way.
Now that you understand how to handle a dementia diagnosis, you will want to ensure you take care of yourself properly as your senior's caregiver.
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4. Dementia Patient Care: Taking Care of Yourself as a Caregiver
One unfortunate side effect of dementia is the stress and emotional drain on the caregiver. You may often find yourself feeling lonely and in need of help. Areas you will want to keep track of include:
- Emotions: There will be good days and bad. You need to be able to share your feelings with someone. Having a supportive ear will go a long way, especially on bad days.
- Time for Respite: You will need time to step away from your duties and get some relief. Taking some time for yourself will make you a better caregiver.
- Practical Help: There will be times when housekeeping help or skilled nursing services will be a huge relief. You will know Mom is taken care of, and you can enjoy each other's company.
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As a caregiver, you have a tremendous responsibility that includes many rewards. You can help your loved one age in place during their days, even if they have dementia.
Support Your Senior with Dementia – Get the Right Care
Gain the best possible opportunity for success when you hire the homecare services of Home Instead Mississauga. Our Trained PSWs will come alongside you and your aging loved one with many services. We offer light housekeeping, Alzheimer's and dementia care, nutritious meals, and much more. Don't walk this path alone. Contact us today.
Call us at (905) 276-2273 to schedule a no-obligation, in-home consultation. Learn more about the compassionate, quality senior care we deliver, every day, to families in All Mississauga including: Clarkson, Cooksville, Dixie, Erin Mills, Erindale, Lakeview, Lorne Park, Port Credit, Sheridan, Streetsville.