Though each person with dementia may be affected differently, there are many ways that it affects people similarly. Some of these affects include:
•Memory loss –particularly day-to-day memory, such as forgetting what happened earlier in the day, not being able to remember why they are at the grocery. Some people with dementia remember things that happened long ago much better.
•Communication problems – Some may struggle to follow a conversation or forget the names of certain objects.
•Confusion about time or place – not recognizing or getting lost in familiar places or being unaware of the time or date.
•Sight and vision problems – increased difficulty with reading and judging distances or mistaking shiny, patterned objects or reflections.
•Unusual emotional behavior or responses – becoming sad, angry, frightened or upset. Someone may seem to lack self-confidence or display changes in mood.
•Restlessness or disorientation – in unfamiliar or noisy environments people with dementia may become confused or ill at ease.
You, as the caregiver, play an important role in helping your aging loved one with dementia in their everyday life. When you are assisting an aging loved one with dementia, remember the following points.
• Allow the person to take their time
• Be empathetic and compassionate
• Put the person at ease by being friendly and smiling
• Consider their feelings and respond to the emotions they are expressing
• Make eye contact
• Make sure that your body language and facial expressions match what you are saying
• Never stand too close or stand over someone to communicate.
• The person should be able to see your face clearly
Always try to remember to not classify your aging loved one as their set of symptoms. Try to show them that they are an individual and practice patience and kindness. You may have to establish routines that make it easier for your aging loved one. A companion caregiver can help provide the security that your loved one needs in the face of the uncertainty of dementia.