Fear of dementia?: Understanding life after a dementia diagnosis can reduce fear of dementia

It is not uncommon to have a fear of dementia for yourself or a loved one after noticing some forgetfulness.

So it is important to understand that there are a group of signs and symptoms that need to be happening repeatedly to be indicative of dementia. Memory lapses need to be occurring, changes in mood, and also noticeable impairment in at least two core mental functions. These include:

  • Memory (confusion)
  • Communication and language (Difficulty finding the right words)
  • Ability to focus and pay attention (Difficulty completing familiar tasks)
  • Reasoning and judgment (Apathy or listlessness, being repetitive, difficulty doing things in the right order, Difficulty following story lines)
  • Visual perception (miscalculating the height of chairs, sofas and toilet seats)

If you or your loved one are given a diagnosis of dementia, then of course there is the chance that there will be some struggles adjusting to a ‘new lifestyle’. But it is important to try not to have fear of dementia, as stress is to be avoided with dementia. There is a lot that can be done to manage living with dementia. Implementing some of the tips below can make it feel just like a new phase in life. Like all the previous phases of life, a new phase of life brings new habits and new ways to spend each day. The following tips are some of the things we have found to make adjusting to living with dementia easier:

  1. Schedules should be simplified. Daily tasks should made as easy as possible. You or your loved one will need more assistance with daily grooming, preparing meals and processing information throughout the day. And if you or your loved one did not rely on a calendar diary before, now is a good time to get one to stay organised.
  2. It may be harder to concentrate on reading with dementia. But many people living with dementia are still able to read well. Therefore putting signs up on how to use the washing machine, what your favourite first-thing-in-the morning activities are and other signs can be helpful around the home. This way you can still remember how to do the laundry, and can still wake in the morning and remember your favourite ways to start the day, but you just need to take a moment to read your signs first. Lists, reminders and labels on household objects are part of the ‘new lifestyle’ that can help keep life the same. For example, if you see that your loved one repeatedly forgets where the glasses are kept, label the cupboard with a sticky note that says “Cups and Glasses”.
  3. Do not feel embarrassed, or do not embarrass your loved one by becoming impatient with your own, or their, memory loss. Instead, ask others to be patient and gentle with you, if you are living with dementia. Or if your loved one is living with dementia, be gentle and patient with them, providing reminders and prompts as a new way of life (act like a gentle project manager).
  4. Light exercise and walking is soothing, and gets the blood flowing. For both reasons, incorporate light regular exercise like walking, swimming, tai chi or any number of other exercises into your new lifestyle. Among our in-home caregiver clientele, we notice a lot of clients with dementia who love to get out swimming regularly, and this is great to see. Some of our dementia clients who are not so self-motivated to swim or do light exercise, benefit from having our caregivers prompt and accompany them on walks.

Best wishes,

Dee

Owner-Care Manager

Home Care Assistance