Seeing a loved one slowly drift farther and farther away from you is very painful and often too hard to bear. Therefore, people with dementia require constant supervision and more often than not need to be admitted into facilities dedicated to them.
Those who are not admitted to hospitals or other facilities either have professional nurses or loved ones who act as their caregivers. Caregivers spend countless hours with patients and try to help patients make recovery.
The symptoms of dementia are often quite apparent but there are some that are less obvious and can have serious affects patients’ health. Thus, it is important that the caregivers know exactly what they are looking at;
So, with that in mind, here are 6 symptoms of dementia that caregivers should know about;
The most obvious and common symptom of dementia is the loss of memory. This is attributed to the death of brain cells and is the first symptom that most people with dementia experience. Loss of memory is not only the earliest but also the most important red flag of the disorder, and this can prove to be especially troublesome when a patient is in the late stages of the disease.
It is also common for patients to forget their caregivers and they often show aggressive behavior in an attempt to protect themselves. When faced with such a situation, as a caregiver, it is best to remain calm. It is also advised to try and make the patient remember who you are by recalling important memories and by using physical touch.
It is very challenging to relate to someone with dementia. In the early stages of the disorder, the patient is fully aware of her situation; she knows that she is losing her memory and is having problems completing the most simple tasks.
It can make the patient feel confused, isolated and lonely. It might even make them feel that they are a burden to their loved ones and this, in turn, drives them into depression.
As a caregiver, of your day, will be spent with the patient so it is always a good idea to engage her in conversation. Ask simple questions and if the patient is struggling to understand, repeat a couple of times without increasing your pitch or volume. Remain calm and gentle.
- Problems with communication
As dementia progresses into its later stages, it becomes increasingly difficult for the patient to string together words to form a sentence.
However, communication between a caregiver and dementia patients is vital. Sadly, it becomes increasingly challenging as the patient is not able to suitably convey his/her message. This, consequently, can leave them frustrated and embarrassed.
The only solution to the problem is caregivers adapting to the changes and adjusting to the difficult situation. In short, all they can do is guess, try their best and make the state of affairs easier for the person who is under their supervision and care.
It is common for dementia patients to become fearful and paranoid about even their immediate family members. It often gets very disconcerting for caregivers or family members to have their loved ones become aggressive towards them.
However, they need to understand that they cannot blame the patient for it. Trying to see it through their eyes you might realize that, if you also were to have no recollection of how you arrived at a certain point in life and could not find any familiar face, you too, would be anxious and afraid.
Thus, in order to deal with such circumstances, the caregiver should let his loved one vent out his anger, or just leave the room for a brief period. Later, he can try and identify the trigger that caused the episode and try to figure out a solution to it.
Losing large chunks of one’s memory is immensely hard to cope with, and the brain is constantly trying to find ways to fill the gaps in between memories and experiences, with possible alternatives. This is often mistaken by the caregiver or loved one as lying, but this is simply one of the many symptoms of dementia.
Even the most simple direct questions, such as, “Who was your father?” may receive the most farfetched reply. This might be upsetting for the caregiver, but it is important to remember that the person’s brain is only trying to fill in the blank spaces and that, in many cases, they may or may not be right. All a caregiver can do is help them remember or just go with the flow.
At some point in time, individuals with dementia will tend to wander about aimlessly. This behavior is not very well researched, however, according to Alzheimer’s Association, 6 out of 10 people who have dementia wander. This is also known as, “exit-seeking”.
People who display exit-seeking behavior often have a specific goal or reason and it is not merely wandering. This may be good or bad depending on the circumstances. They might do this for human contact, and to socialize with other people or even out of distress. However, there is a high risk of them losing their way and getting lost or ending up hurting themselves because of not being fully attentive towards their surroundings.
To help decrease chances of the occurrence of such a situation, caregivers can set up exercise schedules for people with dementia, or let them take supervised walks and avoid crowded places. Moreover, they must ensure that the basic needs of the patient are being fulfilled in order to keep them from wandering in search of their requirements on their own.
If you are a caregiver, then it is imperative for you to know the above-mentioned symptoms. It’s also essential to have adequate knowledge about how to appropriately deal with people with dementia, in order to maximize the results of your efforts and provide the necessary care the patient requires.
Audrey Throne is a mother and a professional blogger by choice. She has completed her masters in English literature from the University of Birmingham. As a blogger, she wrote quite a few posts on health, technology as well as management. Currently, she is associate with Brain Test Team.
Find her on Twitter: @audrey_throne.