Dementia is the term that is used to describe when someone starts to have symptoms that impact their memory. Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain that can cause problems in memory and social functioning and gets worse over time. Both conditions can often be devastating to families that struggle to make sure their loved ones feel supported and cared for. There are some things that you can do to help your family member when they start showing a decline in their memory.
A person with dementia might become upset when they struggle to complete tasks that they once found easy. What can help is establishing a daily routine to help guide them through their day. It helps to provide frequent gentle reminders of tasks that need to be completed. Try to schedule activities when your family is more alert and less tired.
It is also important to try and allow your family member to accomplish what they are still able to do independently. Provide them with a safe environment but if they can dress themselves, let them do so. You can help for example by laying out their favorite outfit on their bed.
Work on keeping their environment safe, look for any fall risks such as loose rugs, and high steps, uses a shower chair while bathing, and lowering the water temperature are some examples of ways to keep them safe
Over time, a person with dementia will often depend on family members more. It is very important that you make sure that you also care for yourself. Know it is ok to ask for help. Speak with your family physician as there may be resources in the community that can help you to take the best care of your loved one.
Written by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mary Kelleher
Berks Community Health Center
645 Penn Street, Suite 301
Reading, PA 19601