If you have been diagnosed with dementia, or you are caring for someone who has, you are not hopeless, or helpless. There are some things you can do to help manage this condition, and this can turn out to be very successful, especially in the early stages of the disease.
If you are affected by dementia, especially if you have just recently found out about it, you are probably overwhelmed by emotions, mostly negative ones such as depression, anger, fear, etc. To be able to successfully cope with this unpleasant condition, you should always make sure that your body is healthy. It is not without reason that people say “sound mind in a healthy body”. You can maintain your physical health by exercising regularly, having enough rest and taking care of your nutrition. Besides that, you should visit a professional to talk about your condition and feelings, and maybe even seek some mental health treatment.
A thing you should definitely not do without consulting your medical expert is making changes to your therapy, or the quantity of the medication your doctor prescribed. You should also not use alcohol, thinking it will solve your problems – it won’t. Any relief that alcohol brings you is temporary and will parish soon, leaving you again with those bad feelings. Consuming alcohol can, rather than helping you solve your problems – make problems even worse, because in combination with your medication alcohol can cause you more health problems than you already have, including memory loss, speech difficulty, etc.
If it is too hard to deal with it on your own (and it probably is), don’t hesitate to go to a support group designed specifically for people dealing with dementia. First, talking to other people about this problem can make you feel less alone and more understood. Connecting with people can also help lighten those negative emotions dementia brings along. Another good side of support groups is that it is the place where you can learn a lot about your disease, from professionals who guide the group, and from the people’s personal experience. But the most important thing you can do in a support group is share your emotions and not pile them up within yourself. However, you don’t necessarily have to go to a support group to communicate and share, you can also speak with your friends and family, over the phone or in person – any sort of communication will be helpful.
As you can get confused and forgetful when suffering from dementia, you should consider ordering your things so that you can find them easily, write down your plans, schedules and appointments, as well as phone numbers and emergency contacts (in case you forget them). Writing a diary could also be helpful, for expressing emotions, as well as for looking back on how you felt and what you did.
Finally, decide what will happen when your disease progresses and you are no longer able to function on your own. You should consult your medical expert, maybe even an attorney and find a person you can trust with your money and belongings.
If you are caring for someone with dementia, then you know how challenging it can get. But in order to be able to care for another person, you first need to take care of your own personal health – physical and mental, as caregivers often tend to become depressed or ill, especially if this overwhelming burden lies only on their shoulders. If you need help in dealing with your feelings, don’t hesitate to seek help. This goes especially if you are becoming depressed, angry, irritable, or experiencing some sudden physical health problems.
Don’t think support groups are only for the diseased. There are caregiver support groups where you can receive helpful information and talk to someone who will understand you, as well as help you be the best caregiver you can be.
If you really want to help someone with dementia, you should learn all you can about it. The more you know, the better you will be prepared to deal with the challenges you will surely face. Patients should be respected, treat them with patience but show leadership and be responsible. At no time should you make the patient feel uncomfortable, unworthy or incapable. Moreover, be honest, and don’t fake reactions and feelings, because no matter how a person with dementia is ill, they will feel dishonesty and that will damage your relationship, and make your care giving task more difficult than it has to be.
Reject less, allow more. Even though the patient might express the need to behave strangely and in an unusual way, unless it may put them in danger, don’t deny them the opportunity, especially if it brings them pleasure and joy. If the patient engages more in activities he/she enjoys, the chances of better coping with this disease will be greater. Of course, a person with dementia can’t do everything, but singing, dancing, or some simple chores shouldn’t be a problem.
Natural lights may alleviate the depression, so keep the room where the patient is well-lit. But avoid strong lights, as they might cause negative reactions.
If you want to learn more about coping with dementia go to this link.