Dementia is a disease state in which the characteristic manifestation is a progressive memory loss. Unfortunately, dementia is not a curable disease as yet and the only measures that we can take would be to prevent, reduce the speed of progression or else in providing supportive treatment. But, patients with dementia could pose many challenges to caregivers in various ways and therefore, knowing how to take care of them as well as coping with the stresses would be of great importance for everyone who are involved in taking care of such patients.
One aspect of looking after such patients would be to make things simple. Thus, following measures can be taken in order to achieve this.
• Do not alter furniture or the place which is familiar to the patient unnecessarily as it would be easy for a patient with dementia to follow routines rather than adapting to new arrangements.
• Remove unnecessary furniture and other objects from the path taken by a patient with dementia to prevent falls or being confused.
• Label the direction to the areas which are commonly used by these patients such as the toilets and the kitchen.
• Label objects and items clearly in large lettering for easy recognition and identification.
• Make a schedule for daily activities and involve them in making the decisions to define their routines.
Secondly, mental stimulation would also be a vital aspect of managing a patient with dementia. Thus, in this regard, following measures can be adapted.
• Encourage the patients to recall and engage in conversations which will stimulate the mind in recalling facts.
• Make them engage in mind stimulating games such as chess, cross word puzzles…etc .
• Provide them with books and magazines for reading.
• Question them on important numbers, locations and names from time to time to ease the ability to recall.
Thirdly, maintaining a good nutrition would be vital to prevent rapid progression of the disease state as well as to prevent other diseases from setting in.
• Include more vegetables and fruits in their diets with adequate amounts of other nutritional elements.
• Keep them hydrated as necessary.
• Put them on a vitamin supplement if it is found to be lacking in the diet.
Fourthly, we need to reduce the incidence of other disease conditions and there progression as it can worsen the dementic state. Thus, we need to,
• Subject these patients to regular checkups to assess blood sugar, cholesterol levels, vital organ functions…etc.
• Give the prescribed medications as instructed by the patients physician.
At the same time, due to the elderly age of these patients, they can be subjected to falls and therefore fractures which can make them permanently disables. Therefore, measures need to be taken to prevent such falls as well.
Finally, the caregivers need to take care of themselves. Thus, it is vital to take turns and not to neglect other life events in relation to the caregivers. At the same time, many support groups also exist which would provide these caregivers with much needed support.