How To Cope With Effects Of Dementia In Your Loved Ones

May 4, 2023 | Moore Care

1. Introduction: What is dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, which are characterized by a decline in cognitive function. This includes problems with memory, language, and problem-solving.

Dementia affects people of all ages, but is most common in older adults. It is estimated that there are over 50 million people worldwide living with dementia, and this number is expected to rise to over 130 million by 2050.

Dementia can be a devastating diagnosis for both the person with the condition and their loved ones. It is important to understand the effects of dementia and how to cope with them. This blog will provide you with an introduction to dementia and some tips on how to support your loved ones.

2. Early onset and severe symptoms

The early symptoms of dementia are often subtle and can be easily overlooked or mistaken for signs of normal aging. Common early symptoms include:

– Memory loss

– Difficulty concentrating

– Struggling to find the right words or understand language

– Difficulty completing everyday tasks

– Changes in behaviour

– Delusions, paranoia or other changes in personality

As the condition progresses, more symptoms may appear. These may include:

– Changes in sleeping patterns

– Difficulty understanding visual information

– Difficulty with coordination and motor functions

– Loss of bladder and bowel control

– Symptoms of depression and anxiety

– Hallucinations

– Agitation and aggression

It’s important to consult with a doctor if you are concerned that your loved one may be exhibiting signs of dementia. An early diagnosis can help the person receive the right care and treatment. Support and resources may also become available.

3. Financial hardship

When a loved one is diagnosed with a condition like dementia, there can be a significant amount of adjustment required for the family in terms of care and financial expenses. Dementia care can be expensive, and the costs will likely increase as the condition progresses. It’s important to plan ahead and make sure that the family has access to the care and support they need to help cope with the demands of caring for a person living with dementia.

Some of the financial resources available for dementia-care include:

– Government programs: The government has a number of programs available to families of those with dementia.

– Alzheimer’s Services: Provides assistance in navigating government programs and supports available, such as respite care and caregiver support services.

– Private insurance: Private insurance companies may cover both inpatient care and short-term respite care.

– Charities: There are a number of nationwide charities dedicated to supporting those living with dementia. These charities may provide financial and supportive assistance.

It’s essential to be aware of the financial resources available and plan ahead to ensure that you have the safe, secure and supportive environment to care for your loved one.

4. Family caregiver burden

Caring for someone with dementia is a difficult and emotional task, and it is only natural to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. It is important to remember that family caregivers are not alone. Becoming a care partner to a loved one who is suffering from dementia is a difficult journey, but many family caregivers find a sense of purpose and joy in their caregiving role.

The emotional, physical and financial strain of caring for someone with dementia affects not only the person living with dementia, but the entire family and care network. To support family caregivers and reduce the burden, there are a number of family caregiver support services available, including access to respite care, support groups and counselling services.

Respite care provides a break for the family caregiver, allowing them time to recharge and take a break from the regular responsibilities of caregiving. Support groups provide an opportunity for family caregivers to connect with others going through similar experiences and find support, understanding, and advice.

Counselling services are also available, enabling family members to work through their own feelings of grief, guilt and stress related to their caregiving role.

5. Impact on mental health

Caring for a person living with dementia can have an impact on the caregiver’s mental health. In a study conducted in the UK, over half of the caregivers reported their own mental health had deteriorated since taking on their caregiving role.

The mental health strain of caregiving can result in feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, as well as feelings of guilt, frustration and sorrow. Symptoms of burnout, such as exhaustion, emotional numbness and feeling overwhelmed, can also occur.

It is important to be aware of the impact caregiving can have on your own mental health, and to practice self-care and seek support when needed.

Simple strategies such as taking regular breaks and focusing on things you enjoy can help to reduce stress. Additionally, seeking out online or local support groups or respite services can help to reduce the burden of caregiving. It is also important to find people you can talk to about your feelings, who will understand what you are going through.

6. How to cope

Taking part have in physical activities can be hugely beneficial in managing dementia symptoms. Physical activity helps promote mental clarity, memory, and positivity. Additionally, it has also been found to reduce agitation and aggression, boost overall mood, and even help with chores around the house.

Finding ways to connect with the person you are caring for can also make a huge difference. Having meaningful conversations and spending quality time together can help you both to stay connected and engaged. Using activities such as playing board games, singing songs and reminiscing about the past can help to keep the conversation flowing.

It is also important to keep looking for new things that can bring joy and make better connections with the person living with dementia. Working with a healthcare provider or a psychologist can help to identify activities that are suitable based on the individual’s needs.

Engaging in meaningful activities and meaningful connections play an important role in helping to cope with the effects of dementia in your loved ones.

7. Summary

Caring for a loved one living with dementia can be challenging, but many positive and rewarding aspects of the experience can be found. There are a number of strategies that can be used to help cope with the effects of dementia in your loved one, including taking part in physical activities, having meaningful conversations, and looking for new activities to bring joy.

Engaging in meaningful activities and connections play a key role in helping to cope with the effects of dementia and ensure your loved one is as comfortable and content as possible. Taking time to improve the quality of life for yourself, as well as for your loved one and those around them, is the best way to manage this situation and bring some comfort to all.

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