Dementia strikes a great deal of fear, stress, and concern in all those involved. People with dementia, Alzheimer’s or any other similar brain disorders have trouble remembering memories, thinking clearly, communicating with others, taking decisions and taking care of themselves.
Many a times, families face great difficulty in recognizing the early stages of dementia in their loved ones. In the early stages, the person can go through mood swings and several minor changes in personality and behavior. Since initial signs like memory loss and confusion are quickly replaced with normal behavioral patterns, dementia can go unrecognized, and thus untreated till it is very advanced.
One day, a dementia patient may be composed, friendly and well-behaved, and the next day, forgetful, agitated, fatigued and confused. As a result of these variations, the diagnosis can cause considerable stress for families and friends.
Knowing about the diagnosis may help develop a sense of relief and make socializing a little easier for both the patient and the family. People at the initial stages of dementia and their family members can cope with the challenges that dementia presents in a much better way.
Here are 6 ways for caregivers, family and loved ones to help the patient deal with dementia in its early stages.
Try to focus on activities that the patient can still do and enjoy. For example, the patient should be encouraged to continue with their hobbies such as gardening, golf, painting, walking or any other activities that are fun, provided they do not pose a risk of injury or fall. Remember, even with a diagnosis of early dementia, exposure to new activities and experiences can enrich the connection between brain cells, so the person should consider taking up a new hobby.
The person affected by dementia needs to stay physically fit and healthy. Any form of exercise is generally a good option, since its benefits include lowered stress and anxiety levels. The patient should also try to maintain a balanced and nutritional diet, by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and protein. Brisk walking, up to five times a week, will help improve cognitive functioning.
The person diagnosed with dementia should try to avoid stressful situations whenever possible. For example, the failure to recall information can sometimes cause frustration, anger, and stress. In order to avoid such strong emotional turmoil, the person should consider using memory aids, like writing down important information, or should consider seeking out help from a family member or close friend.
The dementia patient should also try to relax, as anxiety interferes with the ability to absorb and retrieve information. At all times, the person should not be afraid to ask or accept help or to ask family or friends to repeat things over again.
While every person experiences the initial stage of the disease differently, it is common that in the early-stage, a person may need hints and reminders about things they need to do on their own. A number of practical methods can be adopted to enable the person to remain independent and to make his daily life easier:
- Have a pen and a calendar with large writing spaces near the phone.
- Note down all important events such as appointments, social activities, and due dates for bills and medical visits on the calendar or into one notebook and check this notebook every day.
- If you are taking medication, keep it organized. Use a medicine dispenser or ask your pharmacist to blister pack the medications to facilitate correct dosage.
- Keep a large clock in a prominent place in the living room. If possible, get one that also shows days and dates.
- Use a mobile phone which shows the day and date prominently and feed frequently used numbers into your phone.
- Make sure bills and other important papers that require attention are visible. This helps ensure that they will be dealt with on a timely basis.
Acknowledging the fact that you are afflicted with a disease, may it be dementia or any other, can be quite difficult in the beginning. People often tend to avoid facing reality, their symptoms, make excuses and push the indications to the back of their mind and find other ways to avoid tackling the problem.
To receive the best possible care, a person must come out of denial. Remember, it is important to go along with things. People in an early stage of dementia often learn on their own that something is wrong with them. Family and friends should spend time in explaining that their brain is working fine and things will be better soon.
When you realize that your mind may be "half-gone", try instead to see it as "half-present". With a positive attitude, good care, loving environment and support, people with dementia can still enjoy the beauty of life and small family moments. The patient is more likely to feel secure, remain active and engage in activities familiar to him, which will help him live well for a much longer period of time.
ABOUT Audrey Throne
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. She loves to discover new places and share experiences in words.
Find her on Twitter:@audrey_throne
by Guest Blogger Audrey Throne -