Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not a typical step towards normal ageing.
Dementia is a neurodegenerative disorder resulting from damage to brain protein structures or the loss of connections between brain cells. It is not just a single disease but rather an umbrella phrase that encompasses a variety of medical problems, including Alzheimer's Disease. Patients tend to lose their capacity to coordinate, recognise objects, and comprehend their surroundings.
Affecting around one out of ten elderly, aged 60 and up, poses the severe threat of dementia. Singapore roughly translates the ratio to around 82,000 dementia patients in 2018, projected to 152,000 by 2030.
With the deteriorating cognitive abilities of a person living with dementia, gradually losing the capacity to carry out daily tasks is indeed the time to be terrified. The worst aspect -- the mere awareness of early-stage brain abnormalities, drive the elderly to go into utter denial.
While the two cornerstones of dementia are ignorance and resistance to care, there's nothing that adequate care and ample support can't handle. If you're wary of taking care of a dementia patient, we've gathered some tips and tales on how to encourage your loved one to reach out for help.
Early warning signs of dementia can present as subtle and vague that differ for each person. While some people observe changes in their thoughts or behaviour that could be prompted by dementia, others may notice these indicators first.
Although the early symptoms vary, the following signs to look out for include:
If you have observed these changes in your loved one, see a doctor as soon as possible and get diagnosed.
Most people have trouble recognising that the early symptoms suggest something wrong, mistaking the behaviour for a natural aspect of ageing. On the other hand, these symptoms may appear gradually and go unnoticed for a long time.
According to dementia care providers, early detection can prolong the years of a fulfilling life. Sadly, most seniors seek care too late, and the few treatments available to halt the progression of dementia no longer seem to work. But the sooner these symptoms are addressed, the less likely the condition will worsen.
Most patients may be apprehensive about seeing a doctor. In some instances, they are either unaware of or deny that anything is wrong with them. It could be due to the changes brought by dementia that make it challenging to recognise what's going on. Others may be aware of the changes but are hesitant to validate their suspicions.
Suppose a loved one with dementia resists help. In that case, family members must proceed with caution and patience when arranging a doctor's appointment. Remember to select a strategy that takes into account the person's mental state as well as their behavioural aspects.
When your loved one with dementia resists help, the initial reaction may indeed be frustration. It may be not very easy for the caregivers to comprehend. It is harder for them to grasp that they require assistance entirely.
It can be helpful to consider the following reasons why a dementia patient rejects care:
Memory loss and confusion are two of the far more significant problems caregivers may encounter when dementia patients' cognitive abilities deteriorate. If the patient has dementia, their condition may make it extremely difficult to realise the changes you've witnessed in them. It leads them to disregard the need to see a doctor. It's common to deny treatment or have misgivings when there is a lack of total understanding of the situation.
Denial serves as a coping mechanism that allows us to control severe conditions over time. Still, it can obstruct treatment and your capacity to deal with these issues. Others believe that illness is a source of distraction or weakness and should avoid succumbing to it. While others are in such a state of distress in their life that their health takes a back seat to everything else.
In cases like these, denial may prevent you or a loved one from seeking help, such as medical treatment or caregiving services, all of which could have long-term effects.
As most seniors diagnosed with dementia lose their ability to reason, they may not realise the extent of their condition at once. For them, it might just be minor indicators of age-related memory loss. The symptoms, however, could be much more severe in reality. Most dementia patients, like those in denial, find it incredibly difficult to acknowledge their diagnosis, much less comprehend how serious it has become.
For your loved ones with dementia, they may have found it a struggle to find the right words. Instead, they resort to communicating by gestures rather than speaking. It might be challenging and frustrating to communicate with an elderly who has dementia. Still, bear in mind that they aren't attempting to be harsh on purpose, and try to empathise with them.
Some people refuse help to maintain the idea that they are still self-sufficient. That's why it's vital to respect this and avoid making your loved ones feel obligated to do something.
In the latter stages of dementia, it's usual for the elderly to cease eating or lose an appetite. About 10% to 15% of those diagnosed don't eat or drink enough at any given time, causing them to lose weight. It may be due to physical difficulties, like chewing or swallowing, depression, or problems communicating their needs.
There are various methods to pique an elderly's appetite during meals:
With dementia patients, refusing medication can be a severe problem. The patient may refuse to take their medication because it has undesirable side effects that they cannot articulate orally. Consider the situation from their viewpoint. It aids in bringing the problematic behaviour into focus and identifying a response.
Here are some ways to consider to help your loved ones with taking their medications:
Since personal hygiene and care are deemed private activities, most people will feel anxious if they require support. Abuse occurs when a person with dementia is forced to accept personal care. On the other hand, neglecting their care needs can be abusive, jeopardising their health.
Understanding your loved one's preferences is the key to keeping them hygienic. Ask precise questions like whether or they prefer a shower or a bath. Adapting some of your loved one's habits may not seem like a huge thing, but it can help them stick to a hygienic routine.
It's normal for someone with dementia to dismiss that they're having problems with their memory or other cognitive abilities. This, in turn, will make them hesitant to see a doctor. Consider some alternatives if they refuse to see a professional after learning their diagnosis.
When feasible, schedule appointments during the optimal time of day for the patient. Talk to them about how necessary it is to see a doctor, especially their condition. Please do not force the elderly, no matter how hard they resist. To make your loved one feel a bit better about the doctor's visit, address their concerns with sympathy and respect.
When it comes to handling the myriad problems that occur with age, choosing the right physician can help a lot. Suppose your loved one exhibits any of the following dementia symptoms. In that case, you must take them to a neurologist for a professional diagnosis and assessment.
Here are some options where to get a professional diagnosis in Singapore:
Aside from medical help, it is also vital to seek caregiving services or a dementia nursing home to help assist the family caregivers. These dementia helpline groups provide opportunities for caregivers, care recipients, and dementia care teams to engage and connect.
In Singapore, support group, such as the Alzheimer's Disease Association, offers specialised assistance for dementia caregivers in the community.
Admittedly, there is no general rule on assisting elderly patients who refuse assistance. On the other hand, family caregivers might apply several tactics to provide a gentle yet efficient remedy.
When engaging with a person with dementia, there is always a communication gap. In each case, developing an engagement plan with the patient to help them comprehend their current condition is crucial. Try to speak directly to the patient, even if their cognitive capacity is limited. You can assist and reassure the patient by taking an assertive approach.
Accepting ageing in general, let alone the reality that mental abilities are deteriorating, is brutal. The notion of losing one's freedom is terrifying, and most people will fight it tooth and nail. Understanding how your loved ones feel at this stage of life will help you approach the discussion regarding the care they will require.
Compassion and facts must be used while discussing caregiving support or relocation to a nursing home as permanent residents. It may aid in easing the adjustment if you can give them a gist on how their caregiver will support them or have them visit their new home.
When talking to a loved one in the early stages of dementia, they won't be able to focus on the conversion that long. Listen closely to what they say as their attention wanders. Also, you may find yourself repeatedly asking the same questions to comprehend their refusal to help. Try leaving the questions open-ended instead, and remain patient.
Dealing with the unpleasant behaviour and personality changes that frequently occur when caring for a loved one with dementia is one of the most challenging aspects of the job. Physical aggression, mood swings, hallucinations, wandering, or sleep problems can be distressing.
By adopting minor tweaks, you may minimise your loved one's stress and significantly improve their well-being, so as yours. Attempting to accommodate the behaviour rather than control it will be met with resistance. The key to dealing with tough behaviours is an innovative and adaptable approach.
As you try to establish why your loved one refuses a means of care, use open-ended queries rather than a yes or no response. For instance, suppose your loved one is constantly grumbling about a caregiver. Rather than asking if they want to switch caregivers, you should inquire about what they would like the caregiver to do. And, when it comes to laying out your alternatives for the best dementia care approach, never leave them out of the discussion.
The issue of safety is essential for someone with dementia. Forgetting to lock the door, keeping the stove open, or letting in unfamiliar people in the house is a risk that needs to be addressed. It's essential in making sure your parent or loved one is in a secure environment, and this is where support groups step in.
Entrusting your loved one to a qualified caregiver does not entirely imply that you are abandoning your caretaking duties. It's just another option for providing them with the complete attention they need to live with their sickness. Please include them in choosing which nursing home daycares, respite care, and residential care they prefer while considering comprehensive financial assistance. Overall, examine all care alternatives as soon as possible to ensure the optimum care for your elderly.
Following small measures will allow the elderly to receive help from people other than their relatives. Allow them to gradually acclimate to having other people assist them instead of a family member throughout this process. It will familiarise and adjust them to the situation in the long term.
Sustaining the dignity of your loved ones can make them feel more at ease when getting assistance. It will make them feel more in control of some aspects of their life if they are provided with options. Although having too many choices can be intimidating, you should nonetheless offer them several. As a caregiver, you may lose tolerance with your loved ones if they stubbornly refuse to help. Still, please do not allow this to undermine your respect for their own choices.
With the denial and reluctance to accept help, it could be challenging to provide proper care for an elderly with dementia on your own. Remember to surround yourself with a strong support system or hire professional caregivers to help you share your responsibilities. To support your loved one, take small steps, and start by looking for the finest old folks home near me.