Caring for Someone with Dementia
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a term that covers a range of medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and more. It is a general term used to describe someone with memory loss, as well as language and problem-solving difficulties, that interfere with their everyday life. Abnormal brain changes trigger a decline in cognitive abilities, including thinking skills. The brain changes also affect behavior, feelings, and relationships.
Dementia signs and symptoms can vary in each patient and most signs start slowly and gradually get worse over time. Some signs include:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life- This includes forgetting people’s names, important dates, appointments.
- Challenges with planning/solving problems- Patients with dementia often have trouble following recipes or keeping track of bills.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks- Patients find it hard to complete daily tasks including how to use household gadgets or drive to a familiar place.
- Confusion with time or place- This includes forgetting where they are or how they got there.
- Problems with speaking or writing- They may forget words or have trouble naming familiar objects or people.
- Misplacing things- Patients with dementia may lose the ability to retrace their steps when they lose items and may blame others for stealing.
- Withdrawal from social activities- Patients often pull back and become uninterested in family or social obligations.
- Decreased judgment- Patients may pay less attention to grooming, handling money, and other important life decisions.
- Changes in mood- Mood changes in patients include confusion, suspicion, depression, fear, and/or anxiety.
Activities & Therapies That Are Beneficial
For patients living with dementia, some of the most frustrating things are lack of stimulation, boredom, and difficulty remembering. Providing engaging activities to these patients is important as they keep patients busy, and can lower feelings of anxiety. These activities may make dementia patients feel more engaged with life and allow them to reminisce about certain times in their life. Some ideas include:
- Fun Activities- These might be familiar to dementia patients, are easy to follow, and can help your loved one feel more productive. Ideas include old board games, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and dominos.
- Simple & Stimulating Activities- This could include everyday tasks that make your loved one feel more productive. Ideas include folding laundry, pairing socks, sweeping, and more.
- Reading- While your loved one may begin struggling to read, you could sit down and read their favorite book to them. Audiobooks are also a great idea and help break up the day so there is not too much T.V. time.
- Exercise- Exercising provides a variety of benefits including better sleep and improved mood. Ideas including walking around your neighborhood or nearby park, tandem biking, water aerobics, fishing, and more. This is also the perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy nature, visit a botanical garden, go bird watching, feed the birds, and enjoy a picnic in the garden.
- Engage in Discussions- Patients living with dementia often have a strong long-term memory. This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about your loved ones by asking them about their childhood, their family, what it was like growing up. You could look through old albums, watch old family videos, and ask them about their favorite holidays.
- Cook/Bake- These are practical tasks that are also very rewarding. Let your loved one help you with certain steps and make sure they are being safe.
- Animal Therapy- Animals can help relieve stress and feelings of depression and anxiety, as well as lower blood pressure and heart rate. If you don’t have a pet for your loved one to visit with, you could take them to a local animal shelter, invite a friend over who has a pet, or contact an animal therapy organization.
- Music Therapy- Music can be very comforting and can help recall certain memories. You can play your loved one’s favorite songs and watch live videos of their favorite singer.
- Art Therapy- Art allows your loved one to express themselves and be creative while also providing sensory stimulation. Painting, coloring, and other art activities are very beneficial.
Contact Our Home Care Team
While you can help your loved ones while they are going through the motions of their disease, it’s important to get experienced, outside help. At Home Care Connectors, we have the knowledge and experience needed to take care of your loved ones with dementia. Our caring team provides in-home dementia care to patients across the Darien, Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, and Fairfield, CT areas. Whether your loved one needs us a few hours a day or 24/7, we can help create a care plan tailored to their needs. As mentioned above, these patients need to be provided with activities to help stimulate their brains. Our team can help incorporate some of these activities and therapies into the day in order to make it more enjoyable for them. We focus on the process of the activity, not the results, encouraging your loved ones to enjoy their time. If your loved one does not show any interest in an activity, we don’t push, we just try again later.
If you and your family could use the assistance from our in-home dementia care team, contact us today!