Dementia Care: Memory 101
— September 29th, 2019
The journey of patients with dementia and their family is not just a journey per se. Dementia has a complex disease process and is a challenging experience that impacts the quality of life, family dynamics, roles and relationships of the person affected and their families.
Coping with the struggles of memory loss needs an open mind, learn to see, hear and feel with deeper understanding as to why these changes in behaviour are occurring.
For guided understanding, this is part of the series and discussion that is focused on stage 1 dementia. This aims to learn what are the common behaviours, how to respond and find ways of resilience.
This stage can be overwhelming as the person is struggling with gaps in their awareness and sometimes have no clue of what is happening. Our short-term memory is responsible in remembering the recent events. Long term routines such as bathing in the morning or medications that you routinely take at night and even eating and drinking become part of oneself. Because it is a routine, the memory automates the activities, believing that the person showers every morning and without recognizing the fact of not doing it.
In early stage, executive decision-making skills such as managing finances, initiating and completing tasks will become more challenging. Social and impulse control are also affected. You may notice changes in personality, mood, depression and irritability. Communication changes during this stage includes word finding difficulties, can carry on with conversation but not able to recall all information and abstract thinking is increasingly challenging.
How can you support you loved one at this stage?
It is important to obtain a thorough cognitive assessment and proper diagnosis by consulting a geriatrician. Encourage independence while trying to assist and restore the overall functioning. Continue on doing activities that interest the person the most, emphasize their strength and other skills. Stress can worsen symptoms, try to organize and make simple activities that is easy to achieve.
Observe for signs of depression and other mood changes. Explore issues and concerns as the person affected is overwhelm and most likely has enormous fear. Do not argue.
What coping strategies and pointers for resilience for yourself as the caregiver for your loved one?
It is important to assess your own understanding and beliefs about memory loss and aging. Reach out for resources to help you plan and educate yourself about dementia. Ask for help and discuss if extra support is required. Determine how your roles will change family dynamics. It is a good time to have a family meeting at this time to ensure that the legal, financial and medical plans are being taken care of. Learn to recognize what is present and prepare for what is next. Acceptance, letting go and being open-minded are keys in coping. The best thing to do at this time is to make memories and spend time together.
There are so much unfolding stories we can learn from about dementia but the uniqueness of it is knowing your loved one the most. It is important to feel and listen to them, because they might be telling you something else.
Lastly, do something for yourself as well. It is ok to find time to rest and relax yourself. Rejuvenate your mind and body so you can be more effective in taking care of your loved one.
Geri Health Home Care will continue on the next series about stages of dementia. For the meantime, you can reach out to us for your loved one’s care when you require respite care. Contact us today at 416-431-6266.