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5 Tips for Living with Someone with Dementia

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One of the greatest challenges in life is when a loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms not only affect their memory, but also their behavior and personality traits as well. Fortunately strategies exist to help manage difficult dementia-related behaviors and traits, whether it is a loved one who lives in your home, requiring home care, or one residing in a senior care facility.

  1. Talk to a medical professional.

Dementia is not always the reason behind changes in an elderly loved one’s behavior. Talk to their doctor to ask about side effects from medication, untreated infections, or any other type of pain they might suffer. These underlying causes are just as responsible for behavior changes in the elderly.

 

  1. Get to the root of the behavior.

When people with dementia find it difficult to use words to communicate, they turn to behavior as an alternate way to get their message across. Figuring out what a person with dementia needs can help prevent the behavior from taking place at all. Some more common needs include:

  • hunger or thirst
  • fear
  • fatigue
  • a need to use the bathroom
  • pain
  • too much stimulation
  • in different surroundings

 

  1. Maintain a daily routine.

Someone who has dementia feels secure when they know what comes next. When you set up and maintain a daily routine that includes things such as getting dressed, setting the table before meals, and basic household chores and errands, then you add meaning to their day and give them a sense of achievement.

 

  1. Live in their timeline.

When someone with dementia slips into the past, roll with it. Let them enjoy their virtual trip back through time. If you argue with them about it, or try to convince them that they live in the present day, then you could end up agitating them. If they insist on eating oatmeal with a fork, offer them some fruit to go with it. If they insist that JFK is President, then you might mention how much you love the First Lady’s sense of style.

 

  1. Remember that you are not alone.

This is the most important tip of all. You do not have to do this by yourself. Taking care of someone with dementia requires the work of many people. Your local Alzheimer’s Association support group or Area Agency on Aging can help you find help, whether you plan to care for the person at home or need help finding a senior care facility to provide round-the-clock assistance.

 

When someone you love is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it changes life as you know it. As frustrating as it is to watch a loved one decline, remembering the above tips can help ease some of the tension from the situation.

 

 

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