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Coping with Dementia – 7 Ways to Deal with Dementia in Seniors

 

Coping with dementia can test your nerves and will. This is true for patients, residents, and caregivers. Days turn into weeks, and months become years. It is overwhelming for many, but there are still ways to deal with it.

As lifespans increase, so do dementia rates. And yet researchers are making great strides in understanding and treating this disorder. A medical revolution is underway with stem cell research, medical nanotechnology, and many other new technologies set to profoundly change how long and how well people live. But while you wait for the latest drugs and other treatments, there are certain positive steps you can take, whether a loved one suffers from this disease, or whether you have been diagnosed yourself.

 

7 Ways to Deal with Dementia in Seniors

 

Begin with Physical Health –  No matter what stage the dementia has reached, it is important to keep moving. But avoid excessive, dramatic activity; this can lead to inflammation, something to be avoided whenever possible. The best forms of exercise include walking and swimming. Walking is especially good as it gets you outside in natural light, vital if you are to keep depression at bay.

Avoid Harmful Foods – Begin by cutting sugar and caffeine from your diet. Sugar in particular needs to be avoided as it is believed to increase beta amyloid deposits. Next, cut foods containing aluminum, such as pickles, baking powder, chewing gum, and processed cheese.

Saturated fats also need to be avoided, so stop drinking full fat milk and eating cheese. And finally, ditch the refined grains. White bread, white pasta, and white rice have been stripped of their B-vitamins, which are needed for controlling homocysteine levels.

Eat foods That Help – The brain nutrient acetylcholine is thought to play a role in dementia, so eat more foods rich in this: cabbage, cauliflower, and organic meat especially. It may also be worth buying some lecithin granules. Also, pack your cupboards with fruits and vegetables rich in anti-oxidants. These are found particularly in berries, kiwi, green leafy vegetables, and indeed most brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Next, add in plenty of oily fish. If you dislike fish, try sunflower, pumpkin, and linseeds.

Try to Control Stress – Stress triggers the adrenal glands, which in turn produce the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is thought to be harmful to the brain, so should obviously be avoided. Get to know your stress triggers. If you are caring for someone with dementia, explain to those around them that they must avoid all anxiety and distress. Meditation, yoga, and gentle exercise are all excellent ways to reduce stress.

Join a Support Group – Whether you have yourself been diagnosed or are supporting someone who has, a support group could prove invaluable. Here, you will hopefully find moral support, love, kindness, and comfort. You will be among people who understand. You may also be given vital, life-changing advice. Look up a local support group before you do anything else.

Take Practical Steps to Simplify Life – For example, throw away as much clutter as you possibly can, keeping only those things most important to you, or the person you are caring for. And organize what remains in as simple and clear a manner as possible.

Next, buy two large writing pads, preferably ones you can attach to a refrigerator or toilet door. On the first, write down 10 or 20 of the most important pieces of information you need to remember every day: “check that you have switched off the cooker”, for example, or “do not forget to let the cat in”.

Use the second pad to jot down things you need to remember in the immediate future, such as an upcoming birthday. And attach labels to things. So, for example, you may wish to attach a label above a switch with the words “this switches off the outside light” and so on.

Be Careful How You Communicate – This last piece of advice applies to those caring for a loved one. Attempting to communicate with a dementia sufferer can be both frustrating and heartbreaking. First of all, make a point of facing them and maintaining eye contact.

Speak slowly and clearly and allow them plenty of time to reply (never speak over them). If you ask questions, keep them clear and simple, avoiding long words. And when you ask them to do something, do not use the negative. In other words, do not say “no, we mustn’t go in there because that is dangerous”; instead, say “let’s go in here”.

Finally, be kind. This should be obvious, but it needs to be stressed. Your focus should be on easing their suffering, not arguing or proving you are right. If they claim it is 1947 and they are going to visit their aunt on the bus, play along. Do they seem at peace? Are they happy? That is really all that matters.

 

Coping with Dementia – Conclusion

 

At times, dementia can seem an endless struggle. But you are living at the dawn of a new age in medicine, so do not give up. In the meantime, there is plenty you can do to fight, slow down, and ease the progress of dementia.

 

Applewood Our House has four residential assisted living homes for those with memory care needs.

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