Dementia has a huge emotional, psychological and practical impact on the person living with the symptoms and their loved ones.
Understanding the symptoms of dementia and how it may affect your loved one is the best way to learn how to support them.
Symptoms of dementia:
- Memory loss – not being able to remember what happened earlier in the day, forgetting usually familiar directions, names of people and other usual familiarities is a common early symptom of dementia and something that will get worse gradually.
- Changes in mood – damage to the brain can cause a change in emotions. The person living with dementia can become angry, sad and frightened all of a sudden which can be overwhelming and upsetting for loved ones to witness.
- Problems in communication – there will gradually be a decline in the ability for a person to read, write, speak and understand. This can be hard for loved ones to navigate.
Unfortunately dementia is a disease that will get worse over time. Understanding it gives you and your loved ones the best tools to manage and potentially slow down the symptoms.
Simple ways to support a loved one with dementia
- Focus on what your loved one has got and what they can do, not what they have lost and what they cant! Understand that they will forget things and don’t point these times out, instead gently prompt or remind them of what, who or where they are thinking of.
- Listen to their needs and allow them to communicate their wishes, and honor them if it is safe to do so. Just because a person living with dementia may seem confused it doesn’t always mean that they don’t know what they want or mean to say, especially in the early stages.
- Help support them with things they may forget. Put labels on cupboards and keep a list of phone numbers next to the phone so that in times of confusion they can easily seek support.
- Help them maintain their independence. Encourage them to keep a diary and write them reminders so they can keep track of any appointments or plans they have made, to do lists.
- Seek professional help! Supporting a loved one with dementia can take a toll emotionally and physically – by getting professional support in caring for your loved one you can ensure you’re physically and mentally in the best space to care for them.
There is currently no cure for dementia but with the support, the better quality of life the person living with the illness will have and the more manageable it will be for loved ones.