Dementia is the umbrella term for an individual’s changes in memory, thinking or reasoning. There are many possible causes of dementia. It’s important to understand that it is different from normal changes that come with age.
Dementia may interfere with your loved one’s ability to:
Symptoms of dementia can become severe enough that they negatively impact daily life.
When someone you love is living with dementia, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the symptoms are taking over the person. The behaviors aren’t intentional. Keeping the person separate from the disease can help build empathy and, ultimately, a better relationship.
We often use dementia as an overarching term to describe a disease. This is similar to saying someone has cancer—though the person has a specific type of cancer. Many different diseases and conditions cause symptoms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common disease and the one we hear about most. Others include Lewy bodies, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.
Here are a few common symptoms that are associated with dementia:
Communicating with your loved one can be a challenge with dementia. Remember, as we said above, the symptoms are taking over the person. Here are a few tips to help with communication:
At times a person with dementia may express some unwelcome fluctuations in behavior. A common behavioral change expressed by individuals with dementia is due to something referred to as sundowning.
Sundowning occurs as daylight changes into the evening. At this time, many people living with dementia express restlessness, agitation, irritability, or confusion. This may continue into the night and the person may have difficulty staying in bed. These behaviors may also be triggered by the individual’s environment and his/her inability to express their needs. For example, the person may be experiencing thirst, hunger, pain, or the need to use the restroom.
Here are a few approaches to help reduce sundowning:
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