Training caregivers on how to deal with patients with dementia

Dementia is one of the most common health issues among older adults. As caregivers, it is our responsibility to address their needs appropriately and effectively. But first, let's learn more about dementia and how to care for patients with dementia.

Understanding Dementia

Dementia is a progressive degenerative cognitive disease that involves symptoms such as impaired communication and memory loss, as well as behavioural changes.

It covers a wide range of specific medical conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and more.

These diseases are generally caused by abnormal changes in the brain, which affects memory, behavior, emotions, and relationships.

Symptoms of Dementia

  • Wandering
  • Severe Mood Swings
  • Memory Loss
  • Confusion
  • Reduced Concentration
  • Apathy and Withdrawal from Peers
  • Personality and Behavior Changes
  • Inability to Effectively Perform Daily Tasks

Causes of Dementia
Dementia is caused by damage or trauma to the brain or loss of nerve cells connected to the brain.

What Are the Types of Progressive Dementia

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • Mixed Dementia

What Are the Disorders Linked to Dementia

  • Huntington's Disease
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Know the Risk Factors of Dementia

Independent Factors (Unchangeable)

  • Age
  • Family History
  • Down Syndrome

Dependent Factors (Changeable)

  • Diet and Exercise
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption
  • Cardiovascular Issues (Hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, etc.)
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Vitamin and Nutritional Deficiencies

Complications of Dementia When Left Unattended

  • Poor nutrition as people with dementia have reduced appetites
  • Pneumonia as people with dementia tend to have difficulty in chewing or swallowing, increasing
  • their risk of choking and aspirating food to the lungs
  • Inability to perform personal care tasks independently
  • Accidents and other personal safety challenges
  • Death

How to Prevent the Progression/Onset of Dementia

  • Engage in mentally-stimulating activities, such as solving puzzles, playing word games, reading, and the likes.
  • Being physically active and regular social interaction can
  • delay the onset of dementia.
  • Stop smoking as smoking is found to increase the risk of dementia.
  • Maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Attend regular medical checkups.
  • Get enough sleep.

Effective Communication Strategies

Patients with dementia often have impaired communication skills, including:

  • Difficulty finding the right words to use
  • Easily losing a train of thought
  • Speaking less
  • Relying on gestures more than speaking
  • Describing familiar objects rather than calling them by name
  • Using familiar words repeatedly. When this happens, having meaningful communication with them can be challenging. That is why we have provided a guide for effective communication strategies for patients with dementia:
  1. Don’t generalize. Dementia and other forms of dementia affect each person differently.
  2. Involve and engage the person with dementia in conversation.
  3. Take time to listen to their thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
  4. Let them express their thoughts, feelings, and emotions freely.
  5. Don’t pressure them. Give them time to respond.
  6. Ask questions one at a time. Yes-or-no questions are preferred.
  7. Never make fun of them. It is okay to laugh at good humor, though. It lightens the mood.
  8. Stay honest, loyal, and empathetic.
  9. Be gentle when saying something or correcting them.
  10. Speak slowly and clearly.
  11. Maintain eye contact.
  12. Avoid arguing and criticizing.
  13. Give visual cues to help them understand your point better.
  14. Always treat them with dignity and respect.

If you have questions or need assistance, please call us at 781-209-6434. We’ll be glad to help.