Dementia: How to Deal with Lossing a Loved One Slowly

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When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, it can be a shock. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a decline in cognitive function. This can include memory loss, difficulties with problem-solving, and changes in mood or behavior. A diagnosis of dementia can be devastating, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. One of dementia’s most common forms, Alzheimer’s disease, affects more than 6.5 million  Americans. Here are some things you can expect when coping with a loved one’s dementia diagnosis.

Effects of Dementia

Dementia can have a significant impact on the individual diagnosed, depending on the stage of the disease. It can take a toll on their loved ones as well. For the person with dementia, the disease can lead to a decline in physical abilities and mobility, changes in personality and behavior, and difficulty with communication. In addition, they may become more susceptible to infections, experience pain, and suffer from depression or anxiety.

For loved ones of someone with dementia, it can be overwhelming trying to cope with the changes in their loved one’s behavior and daily routine. They may find themselves taking on a greater role in providing care for the individual with dementia, and they may also experience feelings of sadness, anxiety, or guilt. Here are some things you should expect:

Changes in Mood and Behavior

One of the most difficult aspects of dementia is dealing with changes in mood and behavior. Your loved one may become agitated or irritable, and they may have outbursts of anger or aggression. They may also experience periods of depression and anxiety. It’s important to be patient and understanding, as these changes are often out of your loved one’s control.

Memory Loss

One of the most common symptoms of dementia is memory loss. This can range from forgetting recent events to difficulty recalling long-term memories. As the disease progresses, your loved one may have trouble remembering your name or the names of other family members. They may also lose track of time or place and may wander off if they’re not supervised.

Communication difficulties

Another common symptom of dementia is trouble communicating. Your loved one may have trouble finding the right words to express themselves, or they may repeat themselves frequently. As the disease progresses, they may become less able to carry on a conversation altogether. Again, patience and understanding are key when communicating with a loved one with dementia.

Interacting with Someone with Dementia

When interacting with someone who has dementia, it is important to be patient and understanding. Remember that the person is not acting out on purpose, and they may not be able to control their moods or behavior. Be sure to provide plenty of loving support, and don’t hesitate to ask for help from friends or family members.

Communicating with someone who has dementia can be difficult, but it is important to remember that they are still capable of understanding you. When speaking to your loved one, be sure to use simple and straightforward language, and avoid using metaphors or idioms. It is also important to speak at a moderate pace, and to make eye contact when possible. If your loved one has trouble understanding what you’re saying, try repeating yourself or clarifying what you mean. Give them enough time to respond and try to keep them on track if they stray from the topic by nicely asking them again with the context in mind. You should also let them speak for themselves and try to encourage them to join conversations as much as possible. Avoid being patronizing or condescending. If you’re going to make them choose or decide between things, offer simple choices so that they don’t get confused. And above all, be patient and understanding — these are qualities your loved one will appreciate more than anything else.

In addition to the above, there are certain things you can do to help care for a loved one with dementia:

  • Make sure your loved one has a routine and stick to it as much as possible. This will help them feel more comfortable and less stressed.
  • Help them stay physically active by taking them for walks or engaging in other activities they enjoy.
  • Ensure they have plenty of social interaction, either with family members or with others in the community who also have dementia.
  • Make sure their living environment is comfortable and safe, with minimal clutter and easy access to things they need like food, water, and bathroom facilities.
  • Coping with dementia can be difficult, but by remembering these tips and seeking support from others who are also coping with the disease, you can better manage this challenging time.

A woman holding her elderly mother's hands while they are talking

Caring for Someone with Dementia

When caring for a loved one with dementia, it can be helpful to have an aged care worker, caregiver, or nurse to help you out. These people can provide additional support and assistance and can help to make the caregiving process easier. They would also know how to provide quality hospice care at your loved one’s home. They may know more than you do about how to properly take care of a person with dementia, too. If you’re looking for someone to help you with your loved one, be sure to ask friends and family members for recommendations. You can also check with local agencies or online directories to find a qualified caregiver.

When interviewing potential caregivers, be sure to ask them about their experience with dementia. They should have a good understanding of the disease and how to best care for someone who is living with it. It’s also important to get a sense of the caregiver’s personality — you’ll want someone who is patient and understanding, as well as capable of handling difficult situations.

If you’re able to, try to do a trial run with the caregiver before making a final decision. This will give you a chance to see how they interact with your loved one and whether they are a good fit for your family. Ultimately, it’s important to choose a caregiver who you feel comfortable with and who can provide the best possible care for your loved one.

Final Thoughts

A diagnosis of dementia can be overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you cope with your loved one’s diagnosis. The most important thing you can do is to be patient and understanding. With time and support, you will be able to manage the challenges posed by dementia.

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