What Can You Do to Help Make Dementia Sufferers Comfortable?

As we get older, one of the most common effects of aging is cognitive decline. This can take the form of dementia, which can begin to develop slowly and worsen as time goes on.

While Alzheimer's disease is one form of dementia, there are many types and each condition involves the loss of mental functioning. The onset of dementia can cause memory loss, an inability to concentrate, and other cognitive deficiencies. In many cases, these symptoms develop so slowly that they can be difficult to recognize in a loved one, until the condition becomes more severe.

Dementia is a unique condition in that it affects the loved ones of the person afflicted, as well as the individual with the illness. While most people don't know much about dementia, they begin to learn about this form of mental illness as they're forced to care for an elderly parent. It falls upon the family to care for an individual with dementia, so it's important to understand what that entails. The individual may need help performing simple tasks, or may just need someone around to ensure they don't hurt themselves. In severe cases, the individual may require around the clock supervision, which may ultimately necessitate committing the individual to an assisted living facility.

A Closer Look at Dementia

Dementia has also been called major neurocognitive disorder, but both terms are misleading, because it's not really a specific illness in itself. Instead, the word dementia is used to describe a series of symptoms, which are the result of other conditions occurring in the mind. While Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, it's not the only type of dementia that affects people.

There are also many other kinds of dementia. These include:

  • Vascular
  • Lewy Body
  • Parkinson's
  • Frontotemporal

In total, there are more than 50 causes of dementia. Of all of the people diagnosed with dementia, between 80% and 90% of them suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Even though the cognitive decline that characterizes dementia affects millions of people, there is still no cure for many of the illnesses that cause the symptoms of dementia. For that reason, the best course of action is to control the symptoms.

While degenerative neurological diseases are the most common causes of dementia, there are other conditions that do cause it. Traumatic brain injuries and vascular disorders, which can inhibit blood flow to the brain, can also cause the symptoms of dementia. Additionally, the condition can be instigated by infections that affect the central nervous system, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or meningitis. The buildup of fluid in the brain, which is called hydrocephalus, can also cause dementia.

Frequently Asked Questions About Caring for a Loved One with Dementia

Q: Can I Take My Elder Parent to Be Screened for Dementia?

A: At the present time, there's really no way to screen for dementia, which would provide an accurate diagnosis. This is why symptoms must usually progress to a degree of moderate severity. Researchers are still studying ways to develop accurate and reliable testing methods.

Q: Why is it Important for My Loved One to Stay Active?

A: While physical activity doesn't specifically affect the development of dementia, it does help reduce the possibility of heart disease and diabetes developing. These conditions raise the risk of developing dementia, so you may be able to control the development of dementia by preventing these medical conditions. Purchasing some basic exercise equipment for them is a way to assist.

Q: Why Does My Loved One Need Mental Stimulation?

A: Learning new things and engaging in activities that stimulate the mind, such as puzzles and games, have been shown to strengthen the mind. In addition to helping protect against the onset of dementia, regular mental exercises may also help reduce the severity of symptoms. Signing your loved one up for a mental games website like Lumosity can really assist them.

Q: What is the Best Way to Treat My Loved One?

A: Caring for an individual with dementia requires patience, tolerance, and an ability to empathize. The condition affects judgment, language skills, and the decision-making process, as well as memory. This means you may have to ensure the individual is supervised through much of the day. It also means repeating yourself and helping the individual with specific tasks. It can be a very frustrating situation, but getting upset with the individual won't help matters. If anything, it may confuse them and make the situation worse.

Q: Why Does My Loved One Seem Worse at Night?

A: This is a condition called Sundowners and it often affects those with dementia, though we don't know why. As dusk occurs, the individual may become more confused and have increased difficulty in recalling people, places, and events. People who suffer from sundowners are known to wander, so it's important to keep doors locked and to keep the individual under a careful watch.