Roughly nine million people in the U.S. currently live with dementia, a figure that’s projected to rise dramatically over the next decade. More often seen in those aged 65+, dementia is a real game-changer for every family that it touches. If you suspect that an aging loved one in your life is experiencing signs of dementia, identifying the symptoms can be challenging. As an informal caregiver, providing your loved one with the care they deserve starts with learning more about the early warning signs of dementia and what to expect.
What is Dementia?
Dementia describes a group of symptoms that affect memory, social skills, and cognitive abilities. This affects in ways that interfere with a person’s daily activities. Dementia isn’t one specific disease per se, but several different diseases can cause it.
For example, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of progressive dementia in aging adults. And even though memory loss is typically caused by dementia, memory loss itself may have different causes.
Early Dementia Behaviors
Although they vary by patient, signs of dementia during the early stages may include:
- Inappropriate behavior
- Personality changes
- Memory loss
- Trouble communicating or finding the right words
- Getting lost frequently in familiar places
- Difficulty reasoning, problem-solving, or handling complex tasks
- Acting confused and disoriented
- Trouble planning and organizing
- Motor function and coordination difficulties
Caring for a Senior with Dementia
When your aging loved one has dementia, here’s how to stay connected with them while providing the care they need:
Encourage regular exercise
Getting plenty of exercise is beneficial for one’s mind and body at any age, notably for older adults with dementia. Stay fit as a team by doing low-impact workouts like walking, swimming, yoga, pilates, or water aerobics that strengthen muscles, improve balance and coordination, and increase flexibility. Working out together for at least 20 minutes 3 to 5 days per week will also help both of you get the healthy sleep that your bodies need.
Engage them in mind-stimulating activities
Doing puzzles, playing board games, and going through old photo albums together are all excellent “brain-teasing” exercises for someone with dementia. Other ways to stimulate your loved one’s mind are involving them in family activities like setting the dinner table, taking care of a garden, or putting up seasonal decorations.
Feed them “brain-healthy” foods
Many nutrient-rich foods have been shown to prevent or slow the progression of dementia, while other unhealthy foods may accelerate memory loss and cognitive function decline. Share “brain-healthy” foods with your loved one like berries, nuts, fish, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains.
Encourage them to limit their daily intake of butter, cheese, fast foods, and alcohol. Giving them memory supplements like Omega-3 fatty acids and Panax ginseng may also help boost brain function, but check with their doctor first.
Learn new communication skills
People with dementia sometimes struggle to find the right words, process large amounts of information at once, and comprehend their native language. To keep the lines of communication open, concentrate on skills like attentive listening, eye contact, non-verbal cues, and slowing down your speech patterns.
Don’t take it personally if your senior is forgetful or acting confused or agitated. Instead, remember to practice patience, perseverance, and empathy as you try new ways to bridge the communication gap!
Ask for help
As your loved one’s disease progresses, it will take more time and energy to care for them.
Prevent caregiver fatigue by enlisting the support of trained professionals who can provide the level of care that’s needed, for example:
- Physical, speech, or occupational therapists
- Loved ones that work in the healthcare field
- Meal delivery and paratransit services
- A professional in-home caregiver who’s trained to care for dementia patients
Quality In-Home Companionship Care for Seniors with Dementia
Looking after an aging loved one with dementia can sometimes be overwhelming. At First In Care, our compassionate caregivers step in and provide your seniors with the care and companionship they deserve. While serving as an extended family in your loved one’s home, our highly trained professionals understand the requirements to maintain a client’s quality of life, along with their dignity and self-esteem.
In addition to companionship care uniquely tailored to your family’s needs, First In Care also provides in-home support for other daily living activities like personal hygiene, light housework, medication reminders, and transportation. Our senior caregiving services are affordable, flexible, and always delivered in a seamless package that restores your peace of mind. To learn more now about our private home health and concierge services in Bradenton and Manatee County, Florida, please visit www.firstincare.com!