06:58:41 am on
Tuesday 21 Nov 2017

Care of Dementia Patients
Audrey Thorne

Caring for dementia patients can be quite demanding both emotionally and physically. Memory loss and deterioration in a number of other mental faculties, including personality changes, are some major symptoms of dementia. These symptoms make it challenging to care for dementia patients.

The later stages of the disease can influence the actions of patient, severely and negatively. Patients can become agitated, depressed, anxious, may have frequent hallucinations. They may also lose all inhibitions, often showing inappropriate behavior in public.

Caring for a dementia patient can be demanding and upsetting, but are not impossible to take on. There are a number of effective ways, methods and strategies that a caretaker or loved one can implement when dealing with dementia patients.


Create meaningful activities.

Dementia doesn’t only involve loss of memory, it also causes numerous mood and personality fluctuations where a person is highly prone to negative emotions and anxious states of mind.  Patients experience cognitive impairment, as well as emotional disruption; they lose the ability to engage, effectively, with others, in enjoyable and pleasant activities. As a caretaker or loved one, you should try to create an enjoyable environment to allow them to engage in meaningful activities to keep their minds occupied.

Dementia researchers usually find a close a close relationship between mood and pleasant events as well as experiences. In other words, environment can significantly affect the mood of dementia patients. One study shows that creating pleasant and meaningful activities greatly reduced depressive behaviors among dementia patients.


Engage in healthy contact and exchange, with the patience.

Often, dementia patients experience difficulty making their wishes known to others. They may find it difficult to express emotions, speak clearly, remember the right words or even understand what you’re saying. In such cases, you should try to establish a style of engagement that is easy to understand; it is best to speak slowly, but not child-like, perhaps maintain eye contact, if this doesn’t threaten the patient and always use a gentle tone of voice when you speak.  

Use short, simple and clear sentences, too, when talking with a dementia patient and avoid arguments at all costs. While you’re at it, it is necessary to stay calm. A patient may take a long time to understand what you are trying to say; you may find yourself repeating much of what you say.


Always encourage and reassure the patient.

Dementia patients often display poor judgment, due to cognitive deterioration. They might falsely accuse you of something, as suspicion in an effective, if basic survival mode. They keep repeating a statement or task.

To deal with that you can start by understanding the situation and assessing the extent of the problem.  Display positive emotions, such as encouragement, reassurance and warm smile, instead of blatantly questioning patient ability to do things or telling, them off and arguing with them if they accuse you of something.


Involve dementia patients in physical activities.

Always remain considerate toward the patient. Lessen their frustration, anger or uncertainty by offering help or patiently answering their questions. You need to take these steps without giving the impression you doubt their ability to handle their own affairs or that they are incompetent to look after themselves.

According to caregivers, maintaining the physical strength and mobility of these patients is extremely important. It is also very beneficial for them in the long run in terms of their overall health and quality of life.

It’s a good idea to engage these patients in exercise programs or outdoor games. This will keep them busy. It will also help prevent fatigue and lethargy. Researchers also suggest physical exercise and movement do not only enhance physical ability, in dementia patients, but can also improve mood and slow down cognitive decline.


Introduce dementia patients to music therapy.

Studies shows how music is a powerful tool in kick starting the grey matter. Music transforms parts of the brain, in dementia patients, that other forms of stimulation cannot. Music stimulates interest, willingness and ability to engage with others as well as memory. Music promotes vocal fluency with continuous, rhythmic movement.

One way to deal, effectively, with a dementia patient is thus through music. Have them to listen to songs, perhaps from their youth or relaxing instrumentals to stimulate brain activity. Take them to live music sessions by musicians, trained to deal with the needs of a memory-impaired audience.

Music is definitely beneficial for dementia patients to improve their cognition and mental health, it is also a great opportunity for them to socialize and engage with others.

If you feel that you or a loved one is facing memory decline, we recommend you get a quick brain test for early intervention. Find any of the above tips helpful? We’d love to hear back from you.

 

 

 

Audrey Throne is a mother of a 2-year old and a blogger by choice. She is passionate about health, technology and management. She frequently blogs on these topics. After completing a Master's in English Literature, at the University of Birmingham, she joined the Dementia Talk Team (http://dementiatalk.net/). Find her on Twitter: @audrey_throne.

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