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  • Writer's pictureKristi Lambert

Dementia, The Disease

The bible says, to honor your parents, at all times. It's required even more so when that parent has needs that they can no longer meet themselves. Personally, we are in this time with our own dad and have been able to learn so much about his needs, and how to assist him best. I hope this helps you too, if you are going through this time. Be blessed, friends.

Honoring your parents, can be done in many fashions. We know how to do it when times are great for them, but how to honor them during hard times, that is a different challenge. Dementia and Alzheimer's takes our once vibrant and strong parents, and before we know it they become confused and things in their mind, are always blurry. This disease is cruel and harsh and what's worse, is it is slow and agonizing for both the person who has the disease and the caregivers. With the help of caregivers, we can offer the patient a somewhat, basic level of existence. As the disease grows, it robs first the mind, then the words, then the ability to take care of oneself. In doing so, we watch our loved ones slowly become more childlike in a lot of ways. In other ways, they become unable to speak or get their words out which frustrates them, causing their confusion to be even higher. If they have sundowners, it makes the evenings even more difficult. ( sun downing is a distressing symptom that affects people in mid to late-stage Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, and as the condition progresses, the symptoms tend to worsen. Those with dementia can become hyperactive, agitated and confused, and these symptoms can extend into the night, causing sleep disruption.)

So, how can we help our parents, or even those others who we love, when they are going through this? Here are some tips that were given to help with our dad. I hope these help you too. It's a disease yes, but it's also a lifestyle for the person who is going through it. That is the one who really matters. Get assistance, ask questions and most of all, take moments to appreciate them on their good days, and find patience to work with them on their bad days. It's far worse on them, than you.

  • Connect with the person behind the dementia. This one is very simple. Find out more about the person’s history so you have something to talk about; it will help you understand them better. Relating to them, even if they are living with this disease, will only help your relationship.

  • Make surroundings dementia-friendly. Dementia can often skew how things are viewed. A shiny floor could look slippery or wet and swirly carpets might look like snakes. In addition, label how things work-for example, how to use a remote control.

  • Be patient with them. You must be patient with someone living with dementia. Often, they can get easily confused, startled or agitated. Give them plenty of time to speak.

  • Avoid correcting them. Try to embrace what they do remember vs. attempting to correct them on what they don’t.

  • Be sure to reminisce. Short-term memory is often a classic symptom of dementia. However, that doesn’t mean long-term memory is completely forgotten. Share old stories so it can bring joy to your loved one.

  • Schedule wisely. Establish a daily routine. Some tasks, such as bathing or medical appointments, are easier when the person is most alert and refreshed. Allow some flexibility for spontaneous activities or particularly difficult days.

  • Take your time. Anticipate that tasks may take longer than they used to and schedule more time for them. Allow time for breaks during tasks.

  • Involve the person. Allow the person with dementia to do as much as possible with the least amount of assistance. For example, he or she might be able to set the table with the help of visual cues or dress independently if you lay out clothes in the order they go on.

  • Provide choices. Provide some, but not too many, choices every day. For example, provide two outfits to choose from, ask if he or she prefers a hot or cold beverage, or ask if he or she would rather go for a walk or see a movie.

  • Provide simple instructions. People with dementia best understand clear, one-step communication.

  • Limit napping. Avoid multiple or prolonged naps during the day. This can minimize the risk of getting days and nights reversed.

  • Reduce distractions. Turn off the TV and minimize other distractions at mealtime and during conversations to make it easier for the person with dementia to focus.

I hope that some of these help you, and your loved ones if you are in this time. Remember, the Lord will be with you, keep you and bless you through this valley. He can part the waters, he can raise the dead, he can heal the blind, and he can help you too. Don't give up, ask for help if you need it and be sure to remember to pray. Sometimes with words and sometimes, with no words. Either way he hears you.

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Deuteronomy 31:6,8 Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.

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