12 Steps to care for a person with dementia
Raising the elderly population is a global phenomenon. Today the third age represents approximately 10% of the world population, being able to reach in 2050, 22%. With the aging population, there was an increase in the number of degenerative diseases, such as dementia. The term "degenerative" refers to the loss of proper functioning of a particular organ and is not related to infection, inflammation or tumor. In dementia, the brain is the organ that stops functioning.
The individual with this disease has memory loss; difficulty performing activities of daily living, managing money, driving or eating, and having behavioral changes such as insomnia, irritability, and aggression. Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia are the most common existing dementias. The latter occurs when there are small cerebral infarctions, ie due to lack of blood in some regions of the brain. As for Alzheimer's, no cause has yet been found to prove the disease.
Today the treatment for dementia does not seek to cure the disease, but to delay its progression. For example, for an individual who has difficulty dressing on his own but can still walk on his or her own, treatment will be in the sense that he will be able to walk alone for as long as he can.
and stay at home with a person with dementia:
1. Change the way you communicate
The patient with dementia will have difficulty remembering names of people and objects, and little will understand what you are talking about.
Therefore, verbal communication must be given through short and simple sentences, for example, when offering something it is better to specify: "do you want to read?" , instead of asking, "Do you want to do something?" Give him time to understand what was said. If necessary repeat the sentence or use another expression with the same meaning. Always keep your voice calm, and when talking, have the patient look directly at you.
2. Establish routines
The patient, with the onset of dementia, becomes more insecure. Changes in the environment and in your daily activities can trigger mental confusion. Therefore, establish routines, so that the tasks - such as personal hygiene and food - are always held at the same time. Tasks should be simplified, for example, when dressing, reduce clothing options in the closet. Avoid zippered clothes, buckles or buttons and leave the pieces of clothing separated in the same order.
3. Stimulate independence: Do it with him and not BY him
Aging brings limitations, but we must always stimulate the autonomy of the elderly. Encourage him to do activities that are within his routine, such as dressing, for example. Initially let him try to do it on his own, if you realize that he did not complete the task then supervise him and guide him. If the patient is unable to follow his or her directions, assist him in the task. And in the end, if he proves unable to do it, you can do it for him. Mobility also plays an important role in patient health because it reduces the risk of infection and venous thrombosis, as well as reducing the burden on the caregiver, so try to stimulate him or her to walk and move whenever possible.
4. Take care of his safety
Due to the decrease in visual and auditory acuity, together with the gait instability present in the elderly, it is essential to take care to avoid falls and stimulate independence:
- remove carpets and excess furniture from the house, because they are a trap to cause fall in the elderly
- put non-slip floor and safety bars in the bathroom
- dangerous objects should be removed or stored
The patient should not be in a totally dark environment, as this may make him more confused, always keep some sort of indirect lighting at night . At the doors, the locks should always be at the top or bottom. Another important measure to avoid accidents is to keep the key of the house and the car in safe places, because in crises it can get restless and try to leave the house
5. Have some "rules" for food
Always try to offer the meals in quiet places and with regular schedules, remember: the routine leaves the patient less confused. Avoid distractions at this time, like television, loud music or many people chatting at the same time. Difficulty swallowing may be associated with dementia, so a food with a more paste-like consistency will improve swallowing, which may prevent gagging. The diet should be fractioned, that is, the patient should have six meals a day, each one being small.
7. Pay attention to signs on the skin
The elderly have a thinner and fragile skin, so it is easier to have lesions in areas of support of the body (sacral region and heel). For the patient who is bedridden, it is not recommended to always leave him in the same position, move him at least every two hours. One should make use of moisturizing cream on the skin and offer liquid during the day to avoid a possible dehydration. The diaper should be changed at least every three hours. In case of skin sores, seek a health care team who will prescribe the dressing.
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