Elderly Care - Five Tips in Caring For A Loved One With Dementia

| Friday, November 4, 2011
By Adam J Bradley

Age progression can be a trying time, especially when additional elderly care is necessary due to the physical and mental changes happening. Loss of strength, loss of function, and loss of memory are some common occurrences that the "sandwich generation" notices in their elderly parents. This generation is faced with a dual role - one of caring for and raising their own children, and also one of caring for and comforting their aging parents. While it may be difficult to witness those changes happening in your parents, it is often even harder for an aging person to experience those losses, whether they are physical or mental. Physical and mental fatigue can happen to anyone. There are special concerns, though, when mental fatigue is no longer a short span of time, and other, more prevalent symptoms begin surfacing. When an elderly person is afflicted with dementia, it is as if they are losing a part of themselves.

Alzheimer's and dementia are two very common illnesses that affect the elderly and as the diseases progress, the patient's condition deteriorates. Alzheimer's attacks the brain and affects one's memory, thinking, and behavior. How fast the disease progresses varies from person to person. Those over the age of 60 are more likely to develop Alzheimer's or dementia and they live about 8-10 years after the diagnosis. At first there are only simple memory problems, but as the disease worsens, one will suffer from confusion, forget who people are, and have trouble with simple tasks, speech, and writing. It is only a matter of time before the person will require elderly care services.

It is seldom easy to convince the elderly that they need assistance and can't stay on their own anymore. Where the husband and wife are still both alive and together, it might be possible to stay on their own for a longer period of time, providing at least one of them is still strong and of sound mind. On the other hand, if the one spouse is ill and needs special care it might become difficult for the other elderly spouse to provide this care. Children and families that are faced with this concern have a few options to consider.

If medication is not helping, the person will have a much harder time performing daily tasks. In late stages of the disease, the person can have severe tremors, problems with balance, difficulty swallowing, and confusion. One would not be able to take proper care of himself and would be best living in nursing homes or having a home aide.

Plan Regular Responses and Redirection A common problem for loved ones with dementia is the lack of short-term memory. Perhaps you heard your aging mother ask what she ate for breakfast more than five times already that morning, but it is important to answer the question instead of brushing it off or giving a belittling answer. Politely answer the question the way you did the other three or four times that it was asked. While she is thinking over the response, find a different question to ask her, or a small task to involve her in. This distraction helps her get focused on something else, while it also prevents you from getting frustrated with her for repeating herself.

Resist the Urge to Argue The person you are caring for has a problem with memory loss. No amount of urging will help your loved one remember something they do not. In fact, using phrases such as, "Oh, you remember, we did this..." may even cause more frustration than not remembering the activity, because now they are being coached that they should have remembered the event. It takes a great deal of patience to deal with the same scenarios over and over again. Showing your own frustration or anger while providing elderly care is counter-productive. Take a deep breath, smile, and give yourself time to relax before answering the question again.

Dementia is a progressive illness. It can be scary for both the sufferer and the person watching them experience it. Use these tips to help cope while providing elderly care for your loved one, and to maintain their dignity.

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