Health

What to Do When You Suspect a Loved One Has Dementia

Dementia is a group of diseases that affect the mind by limiting the ability to think or make decisions, and even comes with the possibility of a change in behavior. While it is generally more common in older people, it can affect anyone, at any age.

Symptoms can vary from person to person, but some of the most common include unexplained memory loss, difficulty carrying out usual tasks, or heightened emotional instability, among many others. Getting an early diagnosis may be able to slow the illness down, thanks to the correct medical intervention, and being familiar with the symptoms can enable you to cope when taking care of the individual. 

Here is what to do if you suspect a loved one has dementia:

Get Them to Visit Their GP

The first step is to try to encourage your loved one to visit their GP. They may refer them to a specialist to analyze their brain function and potentially confirm a diagnosis. However, it is not uncommon for the person to refuse a medical check-up, as they may not have recognized the gradual change in their health, as you have. It can be difficult to start a conversation about dementia, but expressing your concern may encourage them to go for a check-up

Research Senior Care Options 

While most relatives of dementia patients aim to carry out the caregiving process in their own home, it’s not always possible to continue as their dementia symptoms worsen. In the later stages, they will likely become a hazard to themselves or unable to fulfil their everyday duties as they once did. As a result, it may be best to seek full-time care from professionals who are used to dealing with such cases. It can be extremely difficult to accept the process of moving your loved one to a care home, but it is often a necessity.  A skilled nursing facility with memory care specialists is equipped with the knowledge and expertise of keeping your loved one safe and happy, as well as empower them through social interaction, activities, and even day trips. 

Know How to Communicate

When a person is living with dementia, it can be difficult to know how to communicate with them as you once did. They may not recognize you or understand who or what you’re referring to, which can make holding conversations a real struggle. Here are some helpful tips for communicating with someone who has dementia:

  • Keep questions simple with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.
  • Give them time to reply to your question.
  • Accept what they are saying, even if it doesn’t relate to your question or make sense to you.
  • Encourage them to join in conversations with others.

Take Care of Yourself

Dealing with the news that someone you love has dementia can be a real worry. While it’s common to feel an element of stress when your loved one is unwell, it’s important to try to manage anxiety and depression symptoms from consuming you and impacting your daily lifestyle. If you’re noticing symptoms such as poor sleep routines, a racing heart, or an overactive mind, it may be worth seeking therapy to help gain perspective of your thoughts and learn to cope with this difficult situation.

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Shamsah Amersi, md, 2825 Santa Monica blvd suite 320, Santa Monica, CA 90404 | California USA

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