Dementia: Not a Disaster
Dementia is a syndrome associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning, particularly in old age. People are often easily confused about the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia: Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, which, together with vascular dementia, makes up the majority of cases. Research shows that more than 850,000 people in the UK have dementia – it affects more than 1 in 6 of people aged over 80. By 2025, it’s expected that the number of people with dementia in the UK will have risen to more than 1 million. It’s important we know how to navigate such a prevalent illness.
Helping loved ones with dementia can be a challenging and complex task, but there are lots of strategies that can be effective in improving their quality of life and well-being. What people with dementia need is help and support to continue doing the things they love.
We hope that this article will show that a diagnosis does not have to be a disaster.
• Be gentle in your interaction
Dementia sufferers are aware that their memory may be failing them. Speak with kindness and patience, don’t berate or condemn the forgetfulness. Ask one question at a time and don’t try and finish any sentences.
• Remember they’re still your loved one
The stigma associated with dementia has a way of making people forget that sufferers are still individuals with skills, talents and conversation.
• Maintain a predictable routine
Individuals with dementia thrive on consistency and routine. Try to establish a daily routine that includes regular meals, exercise, and activities that they enjoy.
• Communicate clearly and simply
Speak in a clear and simple manner with short sentences. Avoid using unnecessary complex language. You could even use visual aids and gestures to support communication.
• Encourage physical activity and going outside
Regular physical activity can improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote physical health. Encourage activities such as walking, stretching, and gentle exercise. Go into nature wherever possible and help your loved one appreciate the small, beautiful things in life.
• Provide social stimulation
Social isolation can exacerbate the symptoms of dementia. Encourage social interactions by organising visits with family and friends. This is one of the reasons that the support and care that ILA provides is so important.
• Promote independence
Don’t mollycoddle your loved one before you need to. By stepping in and helping with activities that they can still do, you’re disabling them before their time. Encourage activities that promote independence, such as dressing, grooming, and meal preparation. Provide assistance as needed but avoid doing things that they are capable of doing themselves.
• Seek Support
Caring for someone with dementia can be stressful and overwhelming. Seek support from family, friends, and healthcare and support worker professionals, like ILA.
Finally, remember that dementia may take away memories, but it will never take away emotions. Someone with dementia will never forget how someone makes them feel, so make sure you foster safe, caring, happy environments. Dementia is a different way of living, yes, but it doesn’t need to mean disaster.
Author Bio: Chania Fox is a freelance writer with experience in publishing and copywriting. Chania has previously worked for Linen Press, the UK's leading independent female publishing press, as well as working as a copywriter for a global design consultancy with high-profile international clients. She is also available on Linkedin.