What is Dementia? A guide on what the person with dementia is going through and how to support

As dementia is such a broad range of topic, we will cover this in a 2 part article. In this article, we will talk about what exactly Dementia is, what the affected person is going through and how we can best support them.

What is dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term to describe issues with memory, speech, critical thinking skills that can interfere with daily living caused by abnormal brain changes.

As it is a progressive disease, the affected person starts to experience personality/behavior changes, difficulty in remembering things, communication issues and the ability to take care of themselves.

Although Alzheimer’s and dementia are commonly used interchangeably, Alzheimer’s is actually a common form of dementia that falls under the category of dementia.

What is the person going through with dementia?

An affected person knows that something is off and as more incidents of forgetfulness and uncertainty of the future causes them to feel anxious. “Where am I?”, “Am I causing stress to my family?”, “What is waiting for me in the future” are all common internal dialogue that a person with dementia is constantly asking themselves.

As things that a person used to enjoy becomes harder due to cognitive decline, they often fall into a depressive state. Depression takes motivation away which in turn causes a vicious cycle that makes the person inactive, become socially isolated and unable to enjoy their hobbies like before.

Confusion often leads the person in an iriitated state that can cause them to lash out by yelling, cussing and getting aggressive. Even a person who have never been physically aggressive can develop this behavior.

Tips on supporting a person with dementia

Compassion and empathy – Compassion and empathy goes a long way, especially for caregivers and family who takes care of a person with dementia. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine if you became confused about your whereabouts, what time it is and even doubting who you are. How would you like to be treated? Responding with affection, reassurance and support will give the person comfort and your relationship with them will be much easier.

Speak clearly and break down questions as simple as possible. Try to speak slowly using simple words and sentences with positive attitude. If they have a hard time hearing, instead of raising your voice, lower the pitch of your voice. If they are not able to comprehend your question, rephrase your question using other simple words. Be patient in waiting for a reply. A person with dementia often have a hard time formulating words to respond so try to listen with your complete presence. If they are struggling for a response, you can make suggestions and offer visual cues such as drawing on a piece of paper to guide them.

Dementia care may be challenging but with the right attitude and educating yourself about dementia can drastically improve the care you provide.

At Holly Services, we have been helping clients with dementia in Southern California since 2004. Our experienced caregivers provide personalized support that can keep seniors with dementia safe and sound in the comfort of their own home.  Feel free to  contact us with any questions about our specialized dementia care today.