Before we find out how to treat dementia patients at home, it is important to truly understand what dementia is and why people who suffer from it need intensive care. Dementia is a chronic illness that causes the progressive and gradual deterioration of mental processes, memory, and brain functions. It is most commonly found to affect elderly citizens. However, dementia is not a natural and inevitable product of aging. There are about 50 million cases of dementia currently globally, and there are 10 million new cases each year. Vascular dementia, Frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s disease are all types of dementia but the most common of them all is Alzheimer’s. Dementia has effects on the psychology of a person and their social, economical, and physical interactions. A person with dementia becomes progressively more dependent on others for day-to-day functions as the disease takes a toll on their ability to do basic things. Hence, people with dementia must receive the care and medical attention that they need. In perilous times like COVID, receiving aid in external environments may be more challenging which means that measures need to be taken to help dementia patients at home.
Ways to care for dementia patients at home
It is crucial for people who are caring for dementia patients to be calm and reassuring because their memory loss and confusion are not symptoms by choice. As difficult as it to keep relaxing the patient from their anxiety, it is understandable that people get extremely restless, anxious, and confused when suffering from dementia. The loss of memory leads to large portions of their life having voids in them that are emotionally and physically taxing on others and themselves. Below are some ways to treat dementia patients at home safely and calmly:
- Help the patient through their conflicting emotions – In the initial stages of dementia, there will be a lot of confusion, restlessness, fear, anxiety, sadness, and other such overwhelming emotions in the patient. During these times, it is helpful to walk the patient through their fears and make them feel comfortable around you. The more familiar they are with you, the easier it will be for them to form a strong connection with you.
- Make sure to read about your patient’s dementia – Despite everyone’s experience with dementia is unique, there are still several common and general references available on the internet. These sources can help give you a basic understanding and idea of what may lie ahead. This will also give you some tips that could help you if an emergency arises. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the easier it will be for you to take care of the patient and empathize with their suffering.
- Reach out for help – Online resources are only reliable to a certain extent. Beyond that, if you require information and assistance on what and how to care for the patient, be sure to as a medical professional or a geriatrician who can give you accurate and assured answers.
- Help with short-term memory loss – In the initial stages of dementia, the patient may tend to forget information and things to do on occasion. This will call for your help in that matter. It is important to help them remain as independent as possible as well as assist them where necessary to avoid any harm. For instance, the patient may forget to take their medications. You need to remind them to take, rather than to allow them to be reliant on you. Giving them occasional prompts, especially in the initial stages allows them to develop a different sense of normal for themselves. Caretaking of dementia requires patients and empathy. It is not easy to understand what they may be going through. However, the maximum you can do is stay on top of information regarding their illness and keep them comfortable.
- Avoid neglecting them – The last thing you should do to a patient suffering from dementia is to neglect them and make them feel like they are a patient rather than an individual. You must always remember to keep them before their illness because half the battle lies in the brain. It becomes more difficult to slow down symptoms of dementia once you convince them that their illness is their identity. If you are having a conversation about them in front of them, make sure to include them in the conversation. Avoid making them feel like a third party in conversations. Be sensitive to them and do not point out their memory loss. If necessary, repeat information over and over again for them.
- Ensure a safe and well-lit environment – When caring for a dementia patient, make sure that hazardous items are out of reach. They should not be able to switch on the oven or stove when you are not around to ensure their safety. Keep the house well lit up. This helps to avoid possible accidents. Make sure to keep emergency contacts at arms reach in times of an emergency.
Presently, there is no cure available for dementia which makes the illness more pressing and challenging. Caretaking aims to keep the patient safe and comfortable. A good caretaker may have positive effects in slowing down the symptoms of dementia. In saying this, taking care of patients that struggle to remember are periodically anxious is taxing. Patience and understanding is the key.