For those new to caring for someone with dementia, we want to help guide you through what to expect, what’s normal and what’s not with this condition.
If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia, you’re not alone.
Let’s learn more about the normal symptoms and other symptoms to watch out for, as well as tips for caregivers who are new to caring for someone with dementia.
The first step to being able to manage the many various care needs for someone with dementia is to understand how dementia affects the person, as well as the ways they will need your help.
When a loved one’s memory or ability to think begins to decline, it can affect their ability to perform everyday activities. Because dementia is caused by degeneration in the cerebral cortex, it affects the part of the brain that is responsible for thoughts, memories, actions, and personality.
As dementia progresses through its seven stages, symptoms can range from the following:
- Impaired work performance
- Memory loss and forgetfulness
- Verbal repetition
- Impaired organization and concentration
- Trouble with complex tasks and problem solving
- Difficulties with driving
- Social withdrawal
- Emotional moodiness
- Lack of responsiveness
- Reduced intellectual acuity
- Trouble with routine tasks
- Denial of symptoms
- Memory loss of personal details and current events
As symptoms progress, your loved one will require different levels of care to maintain their quality of life.
Normal Symptoms of Dementia and Other Symptoms to Watch
Normal Symptoms to Manage
With a basic understanding in mind, it’s helpful to know what the normal symptoms are for dementia so that you are equipped to manage changes in your loved ones behavior. You can learn about their condition and seek guidance from doctors and other health professionals on how to help ease these symptoms.
The loss of cognitive and behavioral function interferes with a person’s ability to think, remember, and reason. Normal symptoms include struggling with memory, communication skills, visual perception, problem solving, self-management, and the ability to focus and pay attention. Dementia can also cause people to lose control of their emotions and cause their personalities to change.
Additional Symptoms to Watch For
Certain symptoms may be a sign of other issues outside of the symptoms caused by dementia. As different symptoms arise, it’s important to seek medical attention for your loved one so that medical professionals can continue to guide you through the care that is needed.
In some cases, symptoms that appear similar to dementia can have other underlying causes. If for example, someone experiences loss of vision or hearing it may have a cause unrelated to dementia. Other issues that can arise include thyroid, liver and kidney disease, heart disorders, lung disorders, infections, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, side effects from medication, hydrocephalus, hormone disruption, and cancer.
With treatment, some of the symptoms accompanying these complications can be eased or eliminated. That’s why it is so important to closely monitor any changes in your loved one’s behavior and condition.
Dementia Caregiving Tips
As a caregiver, you’ll need to balance this understanding of the disease with how you interact and care for your loved one.
Nationally recognized dementia care and education specialist, Teepa Snow, provides caregiving tips through her Positive Approach to Care (PAC).
She shares these five tips for caregivers in managing care for someone with dementia. Read more details here.
- Step back to allow yourself to thoughtfully care for your loved one. When you are unsure what to do next, take a moment to put some deliberate thought into it and gain perspective.
- Respond (don’t react). It’s important to listen to your loved one and validate their feelings, rather than trying to change their behavior or reacting negatively when you feel frustrated.
- Make plans, but expect them to change. Create a schedule to guide you through each day but balance it with remaining flexible to meet your loved ones changing needs.
- Figure out what you can (and can’t) control. You can’t control your loved ones behavior but you can control the way you respond and the resources you both have to help with their symptoms.
- Take care of yourself by taking time to recharge. Your loved one can pick up on your emotions, so they can be negatively affected if you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.
How The Kensington Cares for Those with Dementia
The Kensington Falls Church creates customized, individual service plans to help each resident achieve his or her personal needs and desires, using state-of-the-art therapies. Not only do we take into account the physical aspects of each individual’s health, but we also strive to care for their cognitive and spiritual health as well.
Each resident deserves to live in a community that is best for them and their individual degree of memory loss. To ensure that our residents receive the most beneficial and appropriate care for their circumstances, we break our community into two different “neighborhoods,” based on how we can optimize their quality of life.
In Memory Care at The Kensington Falls Church, we’ve adapted our caregiving techniques to the safety requirements that are now needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents are enjoying life enrichment, which includes sensory activities, such as creating a sensory curtain with LED lights. They love tending to our garden, including picking herbs, watering plants, and seeing, touching, and smelling each plant. Small groups and one-on-one activities have been no problem as our residents who struggle with memory issues respond well to the deeper personal interactions.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia and is experiencing memory loss, The Kensington Falls Church is here to help make a positive difference. Give us a call today to learn more or schedule a virtual visit to see for yourself.