Understanding People with Dementia: 5 Tips for Caregivers

Dealing with dementia is hard either for the person suffering it and everyone who surrounds them. It is important that caregivers and family members learn to deal with specific situations typical of the disease. Understanding this fact is key to making the caring process more bearable. Here are five tips for anyone that carries this task.


1. Accept their reality and go along with it

The main thing to understand is that people with dementia have a brain disorder which they cannot control or change, so the only solution is to go along with it. As we cannot change their inside world, the only thing left is to adapt the external world to their needs and their reality. Someone with dementia might think they have to do something they don’t have to like maybe they have an appointment with a doctor. It is better to ask them about the appointment, who the doctor is, and let the conversation flow.


2. Arguing doesn’t help

The person might begin saying things that are not true and making up stories. This can be very frustrating and our natural instinct is to correct them or argue with them, but it is simply impossible to convince someone with dementia that they are wrong, and arguing can lead to more stressful situations. People with dementia can no longer think logically, so it’s better to remain calmed and, as we mentioned before, go along with it.


3. Be affectionate

Dementia can make someone feel confused and anxious. It is very easy for them not to know the difference between what is real and what is in their head. When this happens, it is important to evaluate what feelings they are demonstrating and respond with affection and support.


4. Do some brain exercises

Though it does not cure dementia, doing brain exercises can slow down the deterioration of the brain and reduce its symptoms. With this kind of diseases, brain health becomes a top priority. Also, physical exercises and engaging in stimulating activities can also be beneficial.


5. Study their behavior

Every action is triggered by something and has a purpose. This means that their behavior happens for a reason and is trying to fulfill a need. Changes in their conduct can be caused by changes in their environment or something someone did or said, and then, their following actions would be directed towards responding to a particular need. It is important to observe what caused that behavior and what need they are trying to meet, so we can adapt their environment and make them feel comfortable.

If you want to learn more about taking care of people with dementia, don’t forget to buy the book “10 Helpful Hints for Carers: practical solutions for carers living with people with dementia,” edited by Professor June Andrews and Professor Allan House.

Image source: dailycaring.com

Consider these Facts about Heating and Lighting and How They Affect People with Dementia

Heat and light can be key factors that affect the health of someone suffering dementia. As we are dealing with elders, they are more prone to develop sight loss and become more sensitive to temperatures. Here are some considerations to take into account when exposing people with dementia to heat and light.


Regarding heating…


Elders might not feel the heat

When aging, the body no longer transpires nor regulates the body temperature, meaning that they don’t notice if they are overheating, and sometimes they overdress. It becomes more problematic when it comes to someone with dementia and non-verbal because, even if they do feel the heat, it will be very complicated for them to communicate it. It is important to pay attention to this and make sure they dress with fresh clothing and wear natural fibers.


They can dehydrate easily

Temperatures can rise suddenly and unnoticed, and exposure to exteriors raises the chances of being affected by those changes. People with dementia can easily dehydrate or suffer heat stress, which worsens dementia symptoms and could lead to a deadly stroke. It is better to avoid going outside during the hottest hours of the day or having long walks under the sun.


Some medications might interfere

Consider that some medications like antipsychotics that are often given to dementia patients can cause the body lose control over heat regulation. In these cases, it is good to encourage people to drink more water and avoid strong fluids like tea or coffee.


Regarding lighting…


Light compensates poor eyesight

As we age, we begin to lose our sight, so it is important that everything around is adequately illuminated to compensate for the eyesight loss. Specially, people with dementia need it to find things around them easier.


Natural light is a better option

Our eyes are designed to use natural light, which explains why this is the best option for people with dementia and sight loss. Natural light reaches more areas than artificial light and exposes color and contrast that make objects more distinguishable. It is important to take as much advantage of natural light as possible in every part of the home.


Artificial lighting has to be intense and uniform

Natural lighting is ideal but, sadly, it doesn’t last the 24 hours. So the goal with artificial lighting is to imitate natural one as much as possible. The intensity of the light can vary depending on the person’s preferences but interiors have to be able to reflect it and let it reach every corner. However, it does have to be uniform in every room of the house since people with sight loss have harder times adapting to changes in illumination.

If you want to find out more about how heating and lighting affects people with dementia, and also learn to implement improvements in their care, don’t forget to buy the book “10 Helpful hints on heating and lighting for people with dementia and their carers.”