What is dementia? Dementia can be very challenging not just for patients but also their caregivers which is why knowing what to expect can help ease the grueling journey. Caregivers may not be able to anticipate the level of what is dementia? on a daily basis, but they can be prepared to manage the varying symptoms as the illness progress. So, what is dementia? You’ll find out in this article. Read on!
What is Dementia: Stages
There are different stages of dementia which also means it requires different degrees of care. With mild dementia, patients may still be able to function independently; however, they’ll experience some form of memory lapses that may or may not affect daily life, such as forgetting words or where things are located.
Patients experiencing moderate to severe forms of dementia will definitely need assistance in their daily lives as it will eventually become harder for them to perform daily activities and self – care. They may also hallucinate, get lost easily and forget where they are; they may also not be aware what day or time it is.
Patients diagnosed with severe dementia will likely lose their ability to communicate and would require full – time daily assistance with normal tasks such as eating and dressing. They may also not remember their own name or the names of others. Physical activities and normal functioning ability may be seriously impaired such as walking, eating, or controlling their bladder. They may also be more susceptible to infections and diseases.
Regardless of how challenging it may be for patients diagnosed with dementia, a person with what is dementia should be respected and treated as normally as possible while ensuring their health, safety and well – being.
The more a caregiver can understand what patients are going through and what to expect with this kind of illness, the more he/ she can also accept the fluctuating levels of behaviors the patient may exhibit, and through that the caregiver or loved ones will become more effecting and loving especially during hard times. As challenging as it may be, it’s best that caregiver maintain a sense of humor about the harmless things that can happen – like putting the milk in the microwave instead of the refrigerator – and not get upset over these little things. When it comes to a loved one suffering from what is dementia, they truly do not understand the error in what they do much of the time which is why being kind and gentle towards them will go a long way.
What is Dementia: Tips for Loved Ones with Dementia
The tips you’ll read came from Sarah whose husband is suffering from dementia. Over the past three decades, Sarah has honed and shared her joyous way of loving someone with dementia. Here are some tips that we can all learn from her:
Tip #1: Honor your loved one
The essence of loving the personhood of each individual will go a long way especially those who have severe cases. According to Sarah, “My husband and I had a very rich and full life, and neither one of us thought that it would change the way that it did.” Her experience can resonate with a lot of spouses and relatives, she continued; “When the diagnosis came, the changes we were experiencing had a name…not a name that I loved but a name that I grew to understand. It actually made me love him more, not less. I wondered how I could meet his needs in a way that he would feel loved.”
This kind of wonder of how she can meet her husband’s needs lovingly is very important for her. Coming from this place of love helped her deal with her husband’s illness and keep her sane. Before asking how to get a task done or how to get them to do what she wanted, she asked how could she honor them and meet their needs in a way her husband and kids felt loved.
Tip #2: Go with it
According to Sarah, her husband “never realized he had something called dementia.” Some patients find the diagnosis quite comforting because it somehow helps them understand the reasons why they are experiencing such behaviors if there’s a label for it. However, for other people, it reminds them constantly of their illness, and the fact that society often has so many negative connotations which can bring about suffering, embarrassment and/ or discomfort.
Sarah shares, “It was my honor to make sure he lived a life of not knowing it every day,” She went with her husband’s reality. And she usually deals with it by not dwelling too much on his diagnosis. Other times, she went along with his desires for the day, even if they contradicted previous desires.
Tip #3: Start now
For Sarah, she sees everything as an opportunity to love her husband, and live in a more profound way. “We need to prepare our heart and soul to love more deeply with everything that comes to us. We must try in some way to empower ourselves with love of life, love of our loved ones, and love of humanity. Even if it is bad news, we shouldn’t live in a fearful way.”
What Sarah does every waking day is to practice reminding herself that she is loved and valued. If she enters this feeling or this kind of state, she can often find ways to make others feel the same.
Tip #4: Never stop making memories
Many times when we hear stories from patients with dementia, it usually begins with
‘who they were’ and ends with ‘then they got dementia.’
Sarah teaches that the story shouldn’t stop at the diagnosis. “It was surprising to me to see his freedom. Perhaps it was because he never actually said ‘what’s wrong with me?’” Sarah mused, “what mattered was that he was there. I think sharing experiences as long as we possibly can is so important. Share things they once loved and invite them to new experiences that are not fearful for them.”
Tip #5: Guide others with your actions
First, Sarah learned that if she stayed calm and kind, Joe and others living with dementia would match this temperament. This is very important because it can also help others do the same.
Dementia should not be confused with common symptoms of aging like misplacing the car keys or forgetting what you were going to say. What relatives need to do is to get a healthcare professional and consult them if these symptoms persist or get worse. We hope this article clarified what is dementia and how you can help your loved one get through it just like the experience of the example given above.