10 Ways to Manage Dementia

Dementia is a very common, and very serious, medical condition. All across the world, someone develops dementia every three seconds. Understanding this condition and learning how to manage it is helpful for both patients at every stage of this disease as well as caregivers and loved ones. Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take to help people with this condition. 

What Manages Dementia?

Dementia is not a disease in the traditional sense: it is actually several closely related symptoms that combine to create this condition. This means that there is no cure for dementia. However, there are plenty of ways to treat this condition. Treatments can range from medications all the way to simple behavioral changes for both patients and caregivers. 

Let’s take a look…

10. Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are a great source of care for patients with dementia. These trials are medical tests conducted by researchers looking to discover new ways to treat a condition. In other words, a clinical trial involves patients with dementia undergoing new treatments to help study its potential benefit. 

Why It Helps

Because dementia cannot currently be cured, these clinical trials can offer new potentials for treatment. These trials therefore allow patients to try out cutting-edge medical care before it becomes widely available. This can mean discovering new ways to slow the development to manage this condition years ahead of time. 

Clinical trials can be a little intimidating, though, and less common than some treatments options patients can handle at home…

9. Break Tasks into Simple Pieces

People with dementia have difficulty managing complicated tasks, which is true for the early stages of the disease as well as the later stages. In order for individuals and caregivers to make tasks easier, they therefore need to break them down into smaller jobs. 

Why It Helps

Instead of handling one large and complex task, a person with dementia can handle multiple simple tasks instead. This makes keeping track of the steps involved in an activity easier. As an example, instead of “do the laundry,” the task can be broken down into the steps: Wash the dirty laundry. Dry the wet laundry. Put away the clean, dry laundry. This method ensures that a task will be completed without frustrating the patient or their caregivers. 

Likewise, it helps to make routines easier for people with dementia to handle… 

8. Make Routines Easier

Routines can prove to be a challenge for people with dementia. Dementia often comes with both memory problems and difficulty handling social situations. Both of these symptoms are often made worse when people have to handle their daily routine. 

Why It Helps

A routine that is reliable and easy to follow is ideal for people living with dementia. Making sure that their daily activities occur at regular times will help them to rebuild their sense of safety as well as their confidence. It also makes unpredictable behavior less likely. 

Another way to help someone with dementia is to make sure their environment is right for their needs… 

7. Improve the Environment 

The environment of a person with dementia can create plenty of hazards for them. Unexpected noises, complicated social environments, and hazardous household objects, for example, can all pose a threat to people living with this condition. Helping a person with dementia therefore often means improving their environment. 

Why It Helps

Think about how you can make the environment more approachable for someone with dementia. A loud apartment building full of strangers coming and going would not be as ideal as a quieter environment with more regulated social interaction. In such cases, if possible, moving would be a way to improve their environment. Household objects, such as knives, toxic cleaners, and medicine, can also be removed to prevent injury. 

There is a special kind of therapist known as an occupational therapist that is perfect for helping patients with dementia… 

6. Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is conducted by a specialized therapist who helps patients to relearn day-to-day life skills. This is vital for someone coping with dementia and helps them to build up the skills and confidence they need for daily life. 

Why It Helps

Dementia changes how we can relate to the world; tasks that your loved one might have excelled at can quickly become daunting or seemingly impossible. An occupational therapist can help individuals with dementia as well as caregivers learn new ways of accomplishing these daily tasks. This helps patients to regain some control over their lives and limits the negative symptoms of their condition. 

Related to some of the strategies we have talked about is identifying problematic behavior… 

5. Identify Sources of Problematic Behaviors 

A person with dementia may display some problematic behaviors, which can range from being “grumpy” to lashing out. It’s important to keep in mind that individuals with dementia have trouble communicating. It’s also important to remember that their negative reactions are just as troubling for them, often even more so, than they are for caregivers. 

Why It Helps

Being able to spot both problem behaviors and what causes them can go a long way to helping someone with dementia. This includes tracking negative behaviors and pinning down their exact causes. Caregivers can then eliminate or modify those causes to help remove unwanted behaviors. 

This is all part of learning how to properly help a loved one with dementia… 

4. Learn How to Help a Loved One

Whether you are a primary caregiver or you are a close family member, it’s important to learn about dementia and how you can help the person you care about. Educate yourself and your loved ones on how to interact with your relative living with dementia. This gives you the knowledge you need to make everyone’s lives a little easier. 

Why It Helps

Dementia changes how we can interact with the people we care about, and re-learning this relationship gives them the best chance of having a higher quality of life. This means that you will be less likely to upset the affected person as well as more able to communicate with them. Talk with their primary caregiver about the specifics of their case. 

Dementia is a complicated condition, so oftentimes treating it involves taking on the individual symptoms at a time… 

3. Symptomatic Treatment

Symptomatic treatment, also known as palliative care, might sound intense, but we are all already familiar with it. When a condition cannot be cured, we tend to just treat the symptoms instead. While this method won’t cure the disease, it will help improve quality of life.

Why It Helps

Dementia patients can face a variety of secondary symptoms that can be treated alongside their primary medical conditions. For example, dementia can lead to injury, create difficulties exercising, and make other mental health conditions worse. Treating these secondary problems thereby helps people with dementia lead quality lives. 

There are also medical options for treating this condition… 

2. Cholinesterase Inhibitors

One of the most problematic symptoms of dementia? An inability to produce new memories and make sound judgments. Patients with this condition therefore often need drugs to help boost their natural abilities. Cholinesterase inhibitors are one such class of drugs. 

Why It Helps

Cholinesterase inhibitors work by preventing your body from “cleaning up” a neurotransmitter that is used in memory and judgement. This means that there is a greater supply of this chemical in the brain than normal, which helps patients to think more clearly. 

This is one of many potential medical treatments for this condition… 

1. Memantine

Memantine is another medication used to help people cope with dementia, and is sometimes prescribed alongside cholinesterase inhibitors. Remember: medications alone are not a sufficient treatment for dementia, although they can be an important part of a treatment plan.  

Why It Helps

Memantine helps by regulating glutamate, another brain chemical that plays a role in learning and memory. By regulating glutamate levels in the brain, people with dementia can get a boost to their overall cognitive function. 

Getting help for this complicated condition can be a challenge even for experienced caregivers. Thankfully, there are plenty of treatment options out there. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to dementia, helping the person with this condition live a healthy and satisfying life is the number one priority. With a mixture of therapists, medications, and the understanding of family and caregivers, you can help a person with dementia live a happy life. Your doctor can help you put together a care plan and give you tips on how to work with your loved ones living with dementia.

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