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Dementia: Is this Dementia and What Does it Mean?

Introduction

What does it mean when someone is said to have dementia? For some people, the word conjures up scary images of “crazy” behavior and loss of control. In fact, the word dementia describes a group of symptoms that includes short-term memory loss, confusion, the inability to problem-solve, the inability to complete multi-step activities such as preparing a meal or balancing a checkbook, and, sometimes, personality changes or unusual behavior.

Legal Planning for Incapacity

As you face aging and the need to make plans for your future, you face having to make legal decisions about many aspects of your lives. These legal decisions not only protect you from others doing things you might not like to you, they also protect family and loved ones by giving them guidance in the care that you would like to receive. After completing all the legal paperwork, the next step is to sit down and talk to family about the decisions you have made and why.

Making Decisions: What Are Your Important Papers?

As you face aging and the need to make plans for your future, you face having to make decisions about many aspects of your lives.  These legal and health care decisions not only protect you from others making decisions for your care that you do not want, they also protect family and loved ones by giving them guidance in the care that you would like to receive.  After completing all the legal paperwork, the next step is to sit down and talk to family about the decisions you have made and why.

Transferring a Person

Tips to help caregivers move or transfer a loved one with mobility limitations

  • Learn proper body mechanics. Ask for a Physical Therapy referral from your physician to teach you how to use your body so you don’t get hurt.
  • Save your back. If you feel a strain, get help; don’t do it alone. This is for your safety and the safety of the person you are trying to move. If you hurt your back, you aren’t going to be able to care for someone else.

Feeding and Nutrition (Dementia)

Tips for caregivers of loved ones with dementia, who are concerned with providing the proper nutrition:

  • Avoid food fights. Make mealtime as pleasant as possible.  Encourage someone to eat but don’t demand, cajole or threaten.
  • Someone with dementia may not know what he/she wants to eat.  If giving choices, give only two things to choose between.  Even if a choice is made, the person may not want it when it is presented. Don’t take it personally. If you know his/her favorite foods, have them available for back up. Favorite foods might change.

Caring for Someone with Incontinence: Emotional and Social Issues

When asked, many family and partner caregivers say that heavy incontinence would tip their decision towards moving a loved one to a nursing home. What makes this such an emotionally difficult turning point? Incontinence can be the last straw in a stressful caregiving situation. Covered below are some of the issues that make incontinence so difficult to deal with, and tips on how to cope with these concerns.

Living with Incontinence: Social and Emotional Challenges

Most people who live with incontinence do not tell anyone about it, often not even their doctor(s) and especially not their friends. Family members might be the ones to bring up the subject, especially if the house is beginning to smell or furniture is soiled. It’s not an easy conversation to have.  If you are faced with incontinence, know that you are not alone. One in 15 million Americans are searching for ways to deal with this very personal issue. Here are typical feelings associated with continence issues and some coping strategies to consider:

Focus on Texas: Caregiver Assessments

Creativity & Aging Webinar: Creativity, Communication and Dementia

Webinar: Caregiver Assessment II - Practice Considerations for System Change

(Part 2 of a 2-part series)

This webinar took place on August 23, 2012.

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