Tips For Caregivers
Difficulties of Dementia
There are many difficulties that persons with dementia have to deal with—including language skills. Problems with language might include:
If someone’s language skills are impacted by dementia, it becomes especially important to be sensitive to the feeling that underlies the person’s speech. You can usually identify whether a person is angry, frustrated, sad, amused, etc. Validating that feeling,
whatever it is, is essential.
It’s okay to say, “Of course you’re frustrated! I would be too!” Or, “I know it’s difficult to find the right word. I’m sorry that’s so hard.” Then you can offer a guess, such as: “Does it have to do with ________?” Or, you might just give a vague but reassuring response, like, “Well, I’m not so sure about all that, but I’ll get to the bottom of it.” Then, simply change the subject, i.e., “In the meantime, how about we take a walk?”
Other difficulties people who have dementia struggle with include problems with their:
Persons with dementia generally retain an amazing sense of humor. They can be delightfully creative in their responses to the world around them. They still retain music (and lyrics), rhythm, prayers and other rituals, long-term memory, social graces, and they are extremely good at sensing other people’s emotions. In fact they will “borrow” your emotions from time to time, so it’s best to present them with ones you would like them to reflect back to you! Best of all, they never lose the ability to give and receive love.
Marysue Moses, Ebenezer Dementia Care Program Coordinator
Care Partner Resources Online and Other
For a wide selection of helpful on-line documents:
For a simple, easy-to digest practical tips:
Tips For Care Partners
Communication Tips for Family Members of Persons with Dementia
Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Basics
There’s a lot of confusion out there around what is Alzheimer’s and what is dementia. Is there any difference between the two? Is one worse than the other? People sometimes assume there is no difference, or they get the false impression that when dementia gets “really bad”, it becomes Alzheimer’s disease. That’s false, and very misleading. Dementia is a very general term, and is not a disease, in and of itself. It’s a syndrome, which simply means a collection of symptoms. In the case of dementia, the symptoms are evidence of a decline in mental functioning. Memory loss is usually the first thing we focus on when we start to list those symptoms, but it’s very important to recognize that dementia causes people to lose an important number of skills (language skills, motor skills, judgment, the ability to plan, to name a few), things that most people take for granted every day. As a result, people with dementia need a lot of help to manage their days.
There are many different diseases and conditions that can cause the symptoms of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is one of them. In fact it is the most common cause of dementia; experts say it is responsible for 50 – 80% of the dementia that we see.
Dementia is not considered to be a normal part of aging, even though the chances for developing it increase as we age. By the time we reach the age of 85, 50% of us have dementia. Experts recommend that exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain. Other lifestyle choices that may help ward off dementia include a healthy diet, getting plenty of mental stimulation from purposeful, pleasurable activities, quality sleep, successfully managing stress, trying new things, and maintaining social connections and interactions.
Resources for Persons Living with Early Stage Dementia
Dementia Action Alliance http://daanow.org/