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Dementia care becomes more specialized as a person’s condition progresses to such a degree that they become uncommunicative, loss of appetite sets in, vital organs begin to be affected and mobility is severely limited.
Dementia often progresses slowly and unpredictably, as a person reaches the end of life. People suffering from dementia can present special challenges for caregivers.
Dementia is sometimes (incorrectly) referred to as senility. There is also the misconception that dementia is a normal part of aging. While many aging seniors do suffer from memory loss, it does not mean they have dementia; it is not a specific disease. There are many different causes of memory loss including dementia, which can be described as a group of symptoms associated with memory decline or other cognitive skills that severely reduce a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living.
Treatment and Care
With dementia, a person’s body may continue to be physically healthy while their cognitive abilities are deteriorating. At some point, family members and caregivers are likely to be faced with some very difficult decisions about treatments that maintain physical health. While medication may help control some of the symptoms temporarily, there are other aspects to be addressed.
Quality of Life
When making health care decisions for people with dementia, their quality of life should be considered. For example, there are medicines available that slow down symptoms, or keep them from becoming worse for a while. Medication may also help people with mild-to-moderate dementia with some of their behavioral symptoms. Unfortunately, many drugs have serious side effects, and caregivers are reluctant to have them prescribed. They may feel that the side effects may compromise the quality of life too much.
A dementia patient can benefit significantly by caregivers paying attention to their sensory needs – hearing, touch, sight – can all be used to bring comfort. Music or white noise, sounds of nature, all help a person to relax.
How Caregivers Learn To Communicate More Effectively
At-home dementia care can be demanding and very stressful for the family caregiver. Fatigue is a serious issue because of always being on-call, getting few breaks. The physical, mental and emotional demands on caregivers can be significant, especially long-term. Family caregivers may experience job loss due to the responsibilities of caregiving. Caregivers should ask for help when they need it.
Making Tough Decisions
Dementia causes a gradual loss of thinking, remembering, and reasoning abilities, making it difficult for those who want to provide supportive care at the end of life to know what is needed. Because people with advanced dementia can no longer communicate clearly, they cannot share their concerns.
As these conditions progress, caregivers may find it hard to provide emotional comfort. People with dementia often experience a lot of confusion and fear. Severe memory loss can render them incapable of taking spiritual comfort from their caregiver because they are unable to understand what is being said to them.
Palliative Care or Hospice Care Can Be Helpful
The World Health Organization describes the last part of the dementia journey as: “The late stage of dementia is one of near total dependence and inactivity. Memory disturbances are serious and the physical signs and symptoms become more obvious.” Communication changes drastically near the end of the dementia journey. We learn that words are not necessary for communication and have to develop other ways of connecting.
End Of Life Dementia Care
End-of-life care decisions are more complicated for caregivers if the dying person has not expressed the kind of care he or she would prefer. Someone newly diagnosed with dementia might not be able to imagine the later stages of the disease. You will want to understand how the available medical options presented by the healthcare team fit into your family’s particular needs. You might want to ask questions such as:
Home Care Assistance is a dementia care facility in Overland Park, Kansas, serving the Kansas City Metro. We are committed to long-term caregiver relationships. Most of our clients choose to have the same caregiver for years. Our consistent staffing allows your loved one to build a bond with their caregiver and think of us like family. If you or a family member have been diagnosed with any type of memory loss and need answers about providing dementia care, please call us at 1-866-454-8346 as soon as possible.