Understanding Dementia Care Needs

When dementia begins to set in, you may notice disturbing new behaviors in your aging loved one. Dementia doesn’t just bring about memory loss, and the secondary symptoms associated with dementia can be quite difficult to understand, let alone deal with. As a caregiver for someone with dementia, you may find it confusing to know what care you should be providing.

Communication Issues

Patients with dementia often have trouble with communication, and may communicate with anger or sarcasm. This is often due to their own feelings of frustration, or it could be they are experiencing secondary symptoms of dementia associated with behavioral issues. Whatever the reason, dementia care should include specialized communication therapy for both the caregiver and the patient.

Behavioral Issues

Dementia is a condition of the brain that can affect personality and behavior. The dementia patient may behave in unfamiliar ways that cause concern. These changes in behavior may include physical aggression toward the caregiver, self, or others, and may also include an unwillingness to get out of bed, wandering, or drastic mood swings. When choosing an assisted living care facility for your loved one with dementia, make sure the facility has guidelines and precautions in place to compassionately and effectively deal with the common behavioral issues related to dementia.

Personal Hygiene Issues

Dementia patients have something in common with depressed persons in that they may have problems maintaining personal hygiene. You may find that your loved one with dementia either forgets to groom himself or herself or shows no desire to do so. In these instances, it’s imperative that a caregiver or hired professional monitor personal hygiene habits and be prepared to step in when necessary to make sure the dementia patient is physically cared for. Depending on the level of dementia, this care may include:

  • Washing and combing hair
  • Brushing teeth
  • Tending to toilet cleanliness
  • Bathing/showering
  • Dressing
  • Clipping nails
  • Trimming excess hair

Nutrition Needs

Some people are surprised to learn that dementia patients can forget how to eat. They may lose an interest in eating, forget meal times, or even forget how to use a knife and fork. Healthy nutrition is a critical component of caring for a dementia patient, and the caregiver or paid professional must take steps to ensure that daily nutritional intake is being managed and recorded. In this way, the dementia patient will have the best possible prognosis for the future.

Caring for a dementia patient can be extremely challenging, especially for a family or friend caregiver, who must also manage their own personal life and job responsibilities. Understanding dementia, and the special care needs that may arise are the first steps to helping a loved one that may be in the beginning stages of dementia.

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