Living with dementia: Practical tips to preserve quality of life for loved ones - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Living with dementia: Practical tips to preserve quality of life for loved ones

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Related Stories

Posted: Saturday, August 14, 2010 5:00 pm

In the 1970s, cancer was a disease seldom discussed in polite conversation. When mentioned at all, it was often in hushed tones and there were few cancer treatment centers in the United States. Today, numerous qualified oncologists and cancer treatment centers are located in every city across the country; using literally hundreds of medications, protocols and procedure to treat cancer.

Alzheimer's disease today is much like cancer was 40 years ago. It is prevalent, but not freely discussed or well understood. The medical community is still in the discovery phase when it comes to Alzheimer's. There is no cure for Alzheimer's, and though there is some promising work being done with diagnostic imaging and genotyping, the only definitive way to diagnose Alzheimer's is still through autopsy. As a society, we are still learning how to accept and interact with individuals living with Alzheimer's and other memory impairing diseases.

Alzheimer's and other memory impairing diseases cause a condition known as "dementia." Dementia itself is not a disease. Rather, it refers to a set of symptoms that affect a person's ability to function compared to how they once did. Dementia is often associated with language difficulty, memory lapses, disorientation, poor judgment and difficulty completing daily care routines, such as dressing, eating or hygiene tasks. Dementia results from a variety of factors, including inadequate oxygen supply, trauma to the brain through stroke or head injury, and certain diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body disease, Pick's disease).

Dementia affects not only the individual with the condition, but those around him who must deal with the individual's changes in behavior and diminishing ability to function. A diagnosis of dementia doesn't automatically mean that someone can no longer manage his own life or that he can no longer be cared for at home. There are powerful tools that the family caregiver can use to help the person with dementia adapt to the "new normal." These tools include communication techniques and modifications to the physical environment that can help to reduce anxiety, fear and frustration.

To help you communicate better with your loved one you should pay attention to your own posture, facial expressions and tone of voice. Make good eye contact and look friendly and relaxed. Speak slowly, clearly and simply. Give instruction one step at a time. Where appropriate, use gestures to match your words. Be patient. Rushing will only frustrate you both.

Things that you can do to make the environment more comfortable and safe for a person with dementia include:

• Monitoring the noise level. Too much noise causes increased confusion, anxiety and overstimulation.

• Providing ample lighting. Minimize glare from windows and limit shadows.

• Lowering the temperature setting on the water heater to avoid burns.

• Replacing glassware with plastic cups.

• Placing a dark-colored, skid-proof rug or mat in front of exterior doors to discourage wandering outside.

Providing family members, friends and the community with a knowledge base that increases understanding and a set of coping tools to handle day-to-day life is essential to improving the quality of life for everyone who is touched by dementia.

To give the community more information and practical tips about living with dementia, Homewatch CareGivers will have two free seminars this month. The first will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17 at Horizon Presbyterian Church, 1401 E. Liberty Lane. The second will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31 the Chandler Library - Sunset Branch, 4930 W. Ray Road.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Jane Cox, MHSA, is president and CEO of Homewatch CareGivers of the East Valley. Reach her at (480) 245-6103.

 

More about

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Facebook

ahwatukee.com on Facebook

Twitter

ahwatukee.com on Twitter

RSS

Subscribe to ahwatukee.com via RSS

RSS Feeds

Spacer4px

Uber Car

Ahwatukee Little League 11s win district title

Ahwatukee Little League Minors topped Chandler National North to win the District 13 title.

Despite excessive heat, some residents still active outside

By Jiahui Jia | Cronkite NewsFriday, June 24, 2016PHOENIX — It was 9 a.m. and the temperature had...

Online poll

Loading…