So what is the difference between Alzheimers and dementia? The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke define dementia as-
- ‘The word for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain.’
Early warning signs can include confusion doing normal activities. There are four basic activities that start everybody’s day-
- Personal healthcare
- Eating and drinking.
People often lose the ability to solve problems. Confusion about normal activities is a giveaway sign. Sufferers’ emotions suddenly start to show signs of changing. They may become agitated. There is difficulty in remembering facts, times, conversations. Dementia sufferers often ask the same question repeatedly.
Unfortunately, dementia often develops slowly and the early signs are not always obvious. We all become forgetful over the years. Because you cannot remember where you put your car keys is not necessarily a sign of the early onset of dementia. Memory loss in dementia is more serious than forgetting things occasionally.
This might become a problem: either thinking about what to wear or putting it on. As we get older, fingers are not as nimble! The way we dress says who we are. Help with dressing helps a person retain their individual style and identity. Helping Hands carers regard this as an important part of their caring service.
Retaining choice helps the person maintain dignity. However, too wide a choice can be confusing. If the person has a lot of clothes, then keep the favourites in a group. Choice is then simplified and confusion reduced.
Choice also encourages independence. Helping Hands carers lay out the clothes, making sure that all fastenings are undone and clothes are not inside out. Putting clothes in an easily followed sequence is one small way to make a big difference to a dementia sufferer’s ability first thing in the morning.
Help with dressing makes sure the person is comfortable. Comfort means more than clothes, it also includes heating in the room. A chair often helps by making life easier.
Helping Hands carers help people retain their own identity and confidence. It’s essential if they are being treated at home, whether young or mature in age.
Most of us regard washing as a private and personal activity. Helping Hands carers understand the importance of being sensitive and tactful to retain the person’s dignity.
Providing help needs careful planning. Think about ages. Think about their gender and preferences. It all helps to make the procedure easier and more relaxed. Look at the routines as well. Enabling them to carry on in their familiar way is reassuring to them.
Also think about do they prefer a bath or shower. What toiletries do they prefer? What dental care is required? Careful consideration encourages their independence with support and help. Some of these activities are extremely private and this can produce anxiety without trained and professional handling.
Remember the after-care activities as well. Are there medications to be applied? It is also a good time to make sure that the person’s skin and health seem OK. Look out for sores, for example.
Eating and Drinking
Dementia can greatly affect a person’s appetite. Even to the point they forget to eat. Helping Hands carers make sure that a careful healthy balanced diet is followed. Grocery shopping may be required. Dementia may affect mobility as well as memory.
Eating and drinking maintains health. It helps to improve a person’s quality of life. Not eating enough can lead to weight loss. It might also reduce muscle strength, which in turn can affect mobility. People with dementia sometimes fail to recognise thirst. In turn this increases confusion and illnesses.
Weight loss might be the result of an individual unable to cook for herself or himself. It might be lack of appetite. It could be they have difficulty cooking. It might be that, like drinking, they fail to recognise hunger. Dehydration is a huge problem to be aware of in people suffering from dementia. Helping Hands carers solve these common problems.
Finally – Communication
Unfortunately, dementia does more damage to this simple act than many other illnesses. Neither does it respect age. Dementia can occur in the young – it is not the privilege of the elderly.
Helping Hands carers are trained to recognise loss of communication. Behaviour can be a communication route for some people. For example, they may refuse food or drink. It helps to communicate if the person can see you. Remember, for them there is no rush, so be calm and thoughtful.
With dementia, people cannot retain information easily. This is a key part of the brain failure. Consequently, they may ask the same question continuously. The answer could be to use short sentences. Always show respect and patience. They might remember times long ago but cannot remember what you told them just a minute ago.
Communication is not just about speaking. People with dementia can read body language well. Facial expressions may cause upset or distress. Match these with what you are saying. People with dementia may well show frustration which comes out as aggression. It’s another aspect of this growing illness. Helping Hands carers are well versed in these problems.
Staying at home improves health and well being. Helping Hands provide support to all ages and many reasons. Care in the home is often preferable to being in residential care, especially for the individual.
Thinking of extra help to make sure you love living at home or to take care of a loved one?
Get in touch for confidential, caring, professional and no-obligation advice.
Call Helping Hands Care, on 01395 264 767.
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