According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently 35.6 million people in the world suffering from dementia. Treatment and care for the patients amount to $604 billion every year. In the US alone, 5 million people suffer from the disease according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can prove to be a challenge for anyone. The following are some tips on how to talk with and care for a person suffering from these diseases.
1. Consistent Day-to-Day Activities
Consistency is very essential when taking care of your loved one with Alzheimer’s or other mental disorders. It is important that the daily activities of the patient such as waking up, eating meals, taking medicines, exercising, taking a bath and meeting visitors happen at about the same time each day. This allows the patient to monitor his or her daily activities. It is also vital that you do not hurry the patient in finishing a certain activity. There is nothing wrong about taking short, frequent breaks, especially during difficult tasks.
2. Communicate Properly
Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can cause a person to forget certain words, places and names of even close relatives and friends. The patient typically resorts to hand gestures to communicate, but in some cases, he or she may display inappropriate outbursts due to frustration. During such cases, it is important that you remain calm. Take note of your body language and maintain eye contact with the person. Make sure you are not doing something that may provoke the patient. Stay patient and respond to the person’s queries in a natural tone. It also helps to identify yourself, even if it means repeating what you said over and over.
3. Manage Unpredictable Behavior
People suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease often exhibit unpredictable behavior. For instance, a patient may become apprehensive and short-tempered when surrounded by strangers. Delusions are also not uncommon in dementia patients. Sometimes, a patient may be too worried about somebody trying to kill him or her. This results to the patient withdrawing from social activities out of fear. These bouts with unusual behavior can be prevented or kept to a minimum by avoiding unnecessary changes in the patient’s environment. It also pays to remind the patient that friends and family do not mean any harm.
4. Proper Nutrition and Regular Exercise
Just as with any other person, eating healthy and exercising regularly helps people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. A patient may not have the patience required to perform a specific exercise routine, so make sure he or she does something really enjoyable. As for dieting, foods high in sodium, sugar, cholesterol and saturated fat must be avoided. Also make it a point that the patient is always well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Taking care of someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may seem like a burden, but it wouldn’t help if you think of it as such. Instead, think of ways on how to make it more enjoyable not just for the patient but for you as well. The tips above should help give you an idea about the do’s and don’ts of caring for patients with these diseases.