In simple terms, the word “dementia” applies to certain brain diseases that cause a progressive loss of a person’s mental faculties. But if you or someone close to you has ever helped with dementia care for a friend or loved one, you know there’s nothing simple about this affliction. Complexities exist at every turn, and Princeton Health Care Center is a valuable resource for support.
Dementia – The Facts and Figures
Of the three most common causes of dementia – Lewy Body dementia, vascular dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease – the latter is by far the biggest threat, responsible for 60% – 80% of dementia cases in the United States. That’s an alarming number. Equally alarming is the fact that, per the Alzheimer’s Association, every 65 seconds someone in the U.S. develops dementia.
How exactly dementia acts varies depending on the person and factors like age, existing health conditions, and lifestyle. Generally-speaking though, there are three stages of dementia that most sufferers go through:
Mild dementia – symptoms include difficulty remembering names and words, trouble retaining information, and depression/anxiety
Moderate dementia – more serious symptoms arise: for example, a decline in physical function and personal hygiene, impaired judgement, and wandering
Severe dementia – at this stage, many patients have limited/no mobility, suffer from extensive memory loss, and experience difficulties with swallowing and bladder/bowel control
Supporting a Loved One With Dementia
As a loved one progresses through the three stages of dementia, the physical and psychological stresses placed on the family/caregiver only increase. Thankfully, there are a number of invaluable support systems available to help during even the most difficult times.
Talk With Your Doctor
Knowledge is power, and establishing a close relationship with your doctor is a big boon when navigating a loved one’s dementia. Not only will you benefit from a doctor’s expertise and insights, you’ll be able to establish a treatment plan that your family is confident with. During the planning process, ask questions such as:
- What options are available, and which one do you believe is the best fit?
- How do you assess whether the treatment plan is effective?
- What side effects should we watch for at home?
- When should we call you?
When someone suffers from dementia, behavioral changes and mood swings are common. Such changes are usually triggered by changes in environment, physical discomfort, medication, and existing medical conditions. It’s important that families and caregivers educate themselves on these triggers and the resulting symptoms (lashing out, hallucinations, sleep issues), in order to exercise the best coping strategies – or ideally, to prevent the symptoms from occurring. For example:
- Monitor the loved one’s hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, and other aspects of personal comfort
- Allow plenty of rest time, especially after stimulating events/activities
- Create a calming environment that minimizes brightness, noise, and background distractions (i.e. the television)
- Don’t take a loved one’s behavior personally, and avoid being confrontational by reminding yourself that any disagreements or outbursts aren’t intentional
Our Healthcare Providers are Here For You
Princeton Health Care Center has staff experienced with dementia care and support. Contact us today to schedule a tour and see if our facility is the right fit for your loved one!