How to Help a Loved One Living with Dementia

If your loved one has recently received a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimers, it can have a huge emotional toll on you and them. It is totally understandable to be feeling a whole range of emotions from anger to fear to sadness. It is important to process all the emotions you may be feeling around the diagnosis and give yourself time to manage these feelings. To do this, you will need to increase an understanding of dementia, make impactful lifestyle changes and increase support to make the transition a more positive experience for them and for you.

Learning About Dementia

Dementia is a loss of cognitive function that inhibits someone from functioning comfortably and safely in their daily life. Dementia interferes with daily activities, and symptoms include memory loss, impaired language skills, disruption to problem-solving abilities, and inability to self-function and manage. It can also have an effect on a person’s physical body. There are many side effects of dementia that will mean having to make changes to a person’s daily lifestyle, from living arrangements to communication skills.

While a diagnosis can be scary and really overwhelming, there is a lot of information and research available to help you and your loved one with this transition. You will be able to find resources on what dementia really is, its symptoms, and the varying support services for those living with dementia.  Understanding more about dementia can help seniors living with it have a better quality of care; furthermore, it helps loved ones provide a more person-centered and attentive care approach. 

There are seven stages of dementia:

  1. No impairment
  2. Very mild cognitive decline
  3. Mild cognitive decline
  4. Moderate cognitive decline
  5. Moderately severe cognitive decline
  6. Severe cognitive decline
  7. Very severe cognitive decline

Each stage has an average duration length as well as a number of recognizable symptoms. It is a scale to assess your loved ones’ state of deterioration. Seeing this written can be scary, but it is also a very important part of dementia care. It gives you information that is integral to a better understanding of dementia—a way to better process and make important changes needed for those living well with dementia.

Accept Support

Knowing about dementia is half the battle; it is also very important to be willing and ready to accept support. Understandably it can be extremely difficult to see a loved one struggle, especially when you are not able to care for them completely on your own. However, accepting support is part of the journey to finding them the best care that they might need. Do your research to see what type of care is available. From assisted living to memory care, there are all sorts of support services out there that can help your loved ones through this particularly distressing time.

On the other hand, you might have a loved one who is in denial about their condition and refusing to accept support; here are a few things that you can do to encourage the process. Firstly, the fact that they are in denial might suggest that they are fearful about the effects dementia might be having on them. Broach the topic gently, do not force them into accepting care, discuss the benefits of the options available to them. Be kind and supportive, listen, and reason with their fears and concerns. However, let them know your worries and concerns and explain why extra support and care might be important for their wellbeing. There are a number of great tips for caregivers that will help with how you support your loved ones.

Memory Care

Frontier Senior Living offers engaging and purposeful memory care communities for people living with dementia and Alzheimers. They offer a rich and meaningful, and enjoyable lifestyle for people affected. The memory care they offer is within an assisted living community where senior adults living with dementia can receive 24-hour care. Their ethos truly values the senior citizen’s priorities and needs. Thus, this type of care is holistic and person-centered, which is truly important in support of adults with memory impairments. While focusing on access and health care, they also offer activities that improve wellbeing and quality of life—aimed at developing and maintaining cognitive functions of those living with dementia.

Sensory Activities

Making sure that seniors living with dementia or memory impairment have enough engaging activities is an extremely important part of their care. It has been noted that sensory activities are very effective for those living with all stages of dementia. This is because they help with cognitive functions and development While also adding joy to their day. These are activities that can be done at home or within an assisted living facility.

Sensory activities are stimulating in ways that target all the senses. A nature walk is an invaluable activity for all seniors; getting outdoors and being able to smell nature and the flowers can really brighten someone’s day. If they are not interested in going outside, why not watch a home movie. Seniors with dementia often have a better time recalling memories from further in the past, so this can be a nice way to bring back memories.

Music and art therapy have are great sensory activities that have known therapeutic effects for those living with dementia. Music is a nice way to get them moving and enjoy a shared space with other seniors. It is worth playing songs from earlier decades, ones that might trigger memories. Art therapy involves a number of senses, and it is nice to be able to busy oneself with their hands. This has been known to have very effective results for those living with dementia.

While a dementia diagnosis can be overwhelming, sad, and very scary for everyone involved, there are many ways to cope and live well with the diagnosis. Take your time to learn more about dementia, accept care and support in order to give your loved ones the best quality of life that they deserve.