3 Important Legal Issues that Must Be Addressed after Dementia Diagnosis

When someone is diagnosed with dementia, health issues take the spotlight. We worry a lot about our elders’ mental health that we forget to deal with fundamental legal issues that are just as vital as health and must be addressed with the same efficiency. Addressing these issues at the very first stages of the disease means getting ready for the future, and preparing for a moment in which this person will no longer think consciously nor be able to make legal decisions without support.


1. Consent to treatment

When facing a health issue, we as patients must be able to make medical decisions. The inability to make decisions by oneself is called impaired capacity, which is very common in patients with dementia. The law protects patients with impaired capacity and created a series of procedures and safeguards to let patients give consent to medical treatments or interventions on their own. However, as dementia worsens, it affects the mental capabilities of the patient, reaching a moment in which they can’t give valid consent. To be ready for this moment, it is important that patients designate an attorney or a guardian that makes all decisions on their behalf.


2. Advance care planning

Advance care planning is a way to make your health treatment decisions and preferences known in advance. It allows to stipulate what kind of treatments or interventions the patient feels comfortable with and which ones they don’t want to undergo, whether they want measures to extend life to be applied and for how long or to be let go smoothly, or if they would like to donate their organs after death. Patients can leave a written statement in which they declare how they want to be treated before they become unable to make decisions or pass away.


3. Wills

Wills are designed to decide in advance what is going to occur with personal assets, like belongings, money, and properties, after death. This is an excellent way to make sure a person’s wishes are fulfilled when they are gone, there are help guides for seniors to choosing their plans & wishes before the time comes, so family aren’t left planning and paying for everything. The patient can write it on its own, but it’s better if they receive help from a solicitor, who then will also sign it to make it legal.

What matter the most is that people with dementia can exercise their rights, make plans and make decisions on their own before they can no longer do so, to make sure everything is carried according to their preferences. If you want to learn more about legal issues and the rights of people with dementia, don’t forget to but the book “10 questions about the law and dementia in Scotland” by the Dementia Services Development Centre.

Understanding People with Dementia: How to Respond to Distressed Behavior

Confusion can lead anyone to act irrationally, and this occurs commonly in people with dementia. Distressed behavior is a typical characteristic of the condition and it is essential to know how to identify its causes and how to respond to it. Screaming, rudeness or any exalted attitude is a sign of distressed behavior, and they can be caused by frustrating situations, a scare, a problem of communication, depression and many other different causes. Whenever a person with dementia is acting this way, this is how you should respond:


Avoid arguing

Remember that people with dementia can no longer think logically nor rationally, so arguing with them can worsen the situation.  It is better to leave the room to relax and then come back.


Don’t take it personally

Again, people with dementia don’t think rationally. They might say things that seem personal or intentional, but the truth is that they are not thinking what they are saying nor notice if they are being rude or hurtful.


Encourage communication

The reason why this person is distressed might be that there is something they want to communicate but can’t find the way to do so. Maybe they are in pain or want to ask for something in particular, and they will try to express it through their behavior.


Have respect and empathy

Understanding is the only tool that is going to help anyone deal with a person with dementia. Understanding their emotions are going to help feel empathy towards them and respect them. It is important always to treat them right and the way they deserve, with support and love.


Consider drug treatments

Sometimes, levels of aggressiveness can reach high, and they can become dangerous for themselves and anyone around them. If nothing helps to calm down a person with dementia, then it is good to consider using medications, always prescribed by a doctor.

If you want to learn more about how to respond to distressed behavior in people with dementia, don’t forget to buy the book “Supporting people with dementia: understanding and responding to distressed behaviour.”

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3 Tips to Make Interiors Comfortable for People with Dementia

A care facility for people with dementia has to be adapted to its patients’ needs. Caregivers have to understand how people with dementia see the world and move on it to be able to offer the best help they can. These are a kind of patients that require a lot of attention and have particular necessities, so it is important that everything that surrounds them accommodates to them. Here are four tips to create comfortable spaces for residents of a dementia care facility:


1. Areas for wandering are a must

One of the biggest characteristics of dementia patients is that they tend to wander around quite often. As we cannot control them, wandering is a must in their lives, but it can put them in dangerous situations. It is important to accommodate the furniture in a way that it does not block their path and leads them back to where they started. Doors they should not pass can be painted the same color as the wall, so they don’t notice them.


2.  Use objects to make them feel comfortable

It has been proven that objects help triggering memories and make connections with important parts of their lives. Personalize their space with familiar objects to make them feel at home. This will also help them stay calmed and relaxed.

Also, objects can help them make connections with simple actions and give them a sense of stability and order. Particular and identifiable objects like statues, big clocks, pianos, bookshelves, etc., can help them recognize where they are and what to do there. For example, a picture that attracts their attention located in a dining room can help them understand that that is the place for eating. They establish a connection between the picture and eating.


3. Avoid confusing and contrasting objects, walls and floors

The brain of a person with dementia understands things literally, so it is important to avoid mixed signals in anything that surrounds them. If wallpaper looks like a sky but when they approach it there isn’t more space in front of them, and instead it feels hard – because it is a wall- they can feel stressed and confused.

Floors have to be the least contrasting in their environment. It is better to keep the same flooring type all over the place and avoid having different patterns in hallways and rooms since these changes could make it hard for them to step into new places.

If you want to learn more about how to design interiors for people with dementia, don’t forget to buy the book “Designing interiors for people with dementia – 4th edition” by Liz Fuggle.

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.”