You are sometimes overwhelmed as a caregiver of your loved one who has memory loss. You probably think what is out there to help. Caregiver burden and burn out issues are big problems. You want to avoid those. It is not easy to take care of a person who has Dementia especially someone who has issues with neuropsychiatric problems related to Dementia. Neuropsychiatric problems mean Dementia pertaining psychiatric symptoms such as confusion and misunderstanding due to language deficits, paranoid delusions and so on. Additionally, some may have more issues with depression, insomnia, and problems with walking, balance, etc. When dementia gets advanced, many will need help with activities of daily living such as feeding, bathing, toileting, etc. Sensory impairments such as poor vision and hearing can contribute to visual or auditory hallucinations. These problems usually come late but when they appear, it becomes more challenging taking care of them. It is important that you anticipate these and be ready.
Many of you want to keep your loved ones at home and others would prefer to have them taken care of at a memory care unit also known as dementia unit. Memory units are run by trained personnel, and the environment is structured to suit the needs of a person with memory loss. Not that all are same, but some are better than others how they operate.
As a caregiver, you want to make sure you know some basics of taking care of a person with Dementia. I recommend that you join local Alzheimer’s Support Group or Alzheimer’s Association. They are of benefit in that they offer education sessions about these issues on a regular basis. Additionally, they also serve as a support group.
Some of the basic things you need to know :
Never argue with a person who lost memory. You will never win.
Learn the technique of redirection.
Aromatherapy has been shown to be useful. Lemon Balm and Lavender oil are most frequently used.
Exercise Training is beneficial.
Music therapy and Pet therapy also are helpful.
Message therapy is helpful.
Maintain a consistent sleep-wake time.
Avoid over the counter sleep medications containing an antihistamine such as Benadryl.
As a caregiver, you also need to make sure you do not burn out. So at times, you need to take time off. During your time off you need to make sure your loved one is safe. Do not leave them alone. Make a relationship with a caregiving agency with trained personnel. You may want to interview a few agencies and get opinions regarding them. It is possible to leave your loved one at home with a qualified caregiver. You need to make sure that the caregiver is already familiar to your loved one. The caregiver you select should be trained and dependable. Respite care with a local dementia unit can be an option however that can be problematic due to the sudden change to an unfamiliar environment which can lead to worsening of symptoms.
As of today, there are no medications that reverse the process of Dementia. Research is ongoing. A drug that has shown some promise is undergoing trial. This particular investigational drug (BAN2401)has shown to have slowed cognitive decline by 30% after 18 months of testing. A full discussion about treatment of Dementia is out of the scope of this publication. We hope to have a cure for this deadly disease one day.