Dementia Patient Care
Dementia stands for a brain problem in which there is a loss of mental ability to the extent to disturb everyday life of patient and family. The most commonly known type is Alzheimer’s. Properly arranged dementia patient care is important in advanced patients to enhance the quality of their life.
There is a variety of symptoms in dementia, short term memory problems like failing to keep track of purse, keys, payments of bills, appointments and cooking meals are there but to consider someone a patient at least two of core mental abilities mentioned below should be impaired considerably:
- Language and communication
- Reasoning and judgment making
- Visual perception
Damage to brain cells causes Dementia. This damage stops brain cells to communicate together and this interrupts thinking, communication, behavior and expressions. All regions of brain perform different functions and problem in one region causes stoppage to its normal functions. Different types of dementias are associated with loss of function of a particular brain region, e.g., in Alzheimer’s hippocampus(region for learning and memory) is damaged, that’s why one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s is memory loss.
The doctor will order blood tests and scans to track basic causes or may advise an MRI to find any tumors, stroke damage or echo to rule out any heart problem. Physical examination and changes in day to day routines and behaviors are tracked. The treatment depends on the causes of dementia.
The available drug treatments can improve the symptoms temporarily because the progressive dementia cannot be stopped or slowed down. There is no cure till now. Sometime one medication is used to handle symptoms of multiple types of dementia. There are some non-drug therapies that also help ease some symptoms.
Factors like age and genetics cannot be changed. Researches are in progress to find risk reduction and prevention in areas including diet, physical fitness and heart diseases. It is said diet affects heart health which in turn have great impact on brain health. Recent evidence showed that Mediterranean diet may help in protecting the brain. This diet mainly comprises of very little red meat and focuses on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, shell fish, nuts, olive oil and healthy fats.
HELPING LOVED ONES, Dementia Patient Care
You can help your loved ones by taking care of all of their needs. Some are discussed below:
HELPING TO EAT AND DRINK
Patients may refuse to drink enough water resulting in headaches, urinary tract infections and constipation because they don’t feel and recognize the feeling of thirst.
Ensuring good dementia patient care by offering drinks in transparent cups or coloured glasses with good grip helps patients.
Patients may not recognize foods or may forget which food or drink they liked. They might spit out or refuse food and sometimes may ask for strange combinations.
All of this could be due to confusion or pain in mouth due to mouth ulcers, sore gums, dentures or difficulty in swallowing. A regular visit to dentist helps removing oral problems.
We can help by making meal time better by keeping enough time for meals and preparing small meals of their choice. You can try finger meals if they find cutlery hard to use. Try making food with stronger flavors and sweet food.
HELPING IN THE USE OF TOILET
Dementia patients suffer from problems with going to toilets. Both urinary and bowel incontinence (lack of voluntary control over urination or defecation) is upsetting for patient and family. UTIs, constipation and some medicines cause problems. Also they might forget the need to go or the location of toilet. Remember this is not the patient’s fault and they are not behaving awkward deliberately. Important toilet aspects of dementia patient care are as following:
- You can put signs on toilet doors.
- Toilets should be kept open with lights on at night.
- You have to look for expressions or body language to guess their need for toilet.
- Daily walk helps a regular bowel movement.
- You can use water proof bedding or pads in case of no control.
Patients can be nervous about bathing or washing because they might feel like falling or water being deep. They may feel disturbed due to noisy flow of water or getting undressed in front of someone. Be sensitive. Assure them that you won’t let them fall and use seat with hand shower. Stay with them if they want you there. Use products of their choice.
Dementia causes disturbance to person’s internal clock making them disoriented about time and to cater this issue it is recommended to increase daylight activities. Limit naps. Cut out coffee. Put a clock that tells its day or night. Make bedroom comfortable.
BE THERE AND TALK
Sometimes they don’t recognize or you may feel you have lost them. There is a feeling that they are not hearing or seeing. Brain disease like this causes delays in information processing hence delaying the responses making it appear as hearing loss. Peripheral vision also deteriorates resulting in running hands along walls. They are not cutoff from us but with different rate of processing. Don’t correct them if they are confused with dates, etc. There short term memory may be lost but they have their long term memory. It is good to talk about good old times.
We can guide them to keep diary to record appointments, to do list, important dates, thoughts and ideas. A place can be fixed to keep important things like keys, money, glasses, etc. Labels to be put on everything. Phone numbers to be placed by telephone. To remind to pick keys before leaving home, a note should be pasted on back of door. Time table of daily activities and weekly activities should be clearly placed. Family photographs can be labeled as well and so on.
Try to involve patients in different activities to make them feel useful. Remember they will take long time in completing tasks or may lose interest. Don’t stress or push them to complete it. Try to communicate as much as possible. Let them express their feeling as much they want to share. Try to understand them. Once you develop that understanding of there need and expression, it will become easier to resolve their concerns.
They need to be reassured of their value so keep them busy in everyday tasks which are going to GIVE THEM A REASON TO LIVE as long as possible.