How can I understand dementia better?

dementia care

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be rewarding, but it doesn’t come without its challenges.

According to the Royal College of Nursing, approximately one in six people over the age of 80 have a form of dementia.

More people than ever are now living with illness, and the number of people with dementia is expected to double in the next 30 years.

Dementia is a progressive condition that can cause a variety of different symptoms.

Some of the most common symptoms are memory loss, problems with reasoning, decision-making, communicating, and changes in behaviour. As dementia progresses, the symptoms can make it difficult for the individual to carry out everyday tasks and live independently.

Let’s find out a little more about the challenges you may face if a friend or relative is diagnosed with dementia and what you can do to help them.

Common challenges of caring for someone with dementia

The symptoms of dementia can sometimes cause challenges for carers, friends, or relatives of those with the condition.

Some common challenges you may face if you know someone with dementia include:

Behavioural changes

One of the hardest things to deal with when you know someone with dementia is watching their behaviour change. Behavioural changes are a common symptom of the condition, but it can sometimes feel like you’re watching the person you know and love slip away. People with dementia may suddenly have no interest in the things they once enjoyed, become difficult to speak to, or even aggressive.

Changing care needs

Keeping up with the person’s constantly changing care needs may feel exhausting and mean regularly adapting their care arrangements. Dementia is a progressive condition, and you may be able to care for them at home on your own during the early stages but find that you need progressively more assistance with their care as the condition progresses.

Just some of the areas of day-to-day life that those with dementia may need extra help with include:

  • Eating, drinking, and preparing food
  • Remembering to take medication
  • Household chores, shopping, and errands
  • Mobility
  • Personal hygiene
  • Financial management

Not accepting their diagnosis

Helping someone with dementia can be particularly difficult if they will not accept or believe that there is a problem. It is quite common for those with dementia to forget that they have the condition or deny that there is a problem. This can make helping them and getting their cooperation with tasks very difficult for their carers.

Communication problems

It can sometimes become hard to communicate with those with dementia as the condition progresses. They may begin to find it difficult to understand what you’re saying, struggle to hold a conversation, or lose the ability to communicate or express themselves effectively.

Forgetting things

A common symptom of dementia is memory loss. Memory loss in people with dementia can look very different from one person to the next, depending on how far the dementia has progressed. For one person, memory loss may mean forgetting the day of the week or the conversation they’ve just had. For people with dementia that is advanced, forgetting things may become more of a serious problem; they can forget who people are, what everyday objects are used for, or how to complete simple tasks.

The impact of caring for a friend or relative with dementia

If you have a friend or a relative with dementia, providing them with care and support can offer you both a lot of comfort. It can feel good to be there looking after your loved one yourself, especially if that means they can stay in the comfort of their own home.

However, as dementia progresses, it is normal to begin to feel overwhelmed, sad, or frustrated.

It’s completely normal to go through a whole range of different emotions when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, from sadness and grief to frustration and anger.

As well as having a psychological effect on the person with the illness, looking after a person with dementia can be overwhelming and may sometimes impact the carer’s mental health too.

As well as the emotional side of caring for someone with dementia, it can also be physically exhausting, especially if you’re doing it alone or with little help.

Without seeking additional support, it is easy to begin to feel isolated or trapped in your role caring for someone and it’s important to make sure that you take breaks when you need to so that you can look after your own wellbeing too.

You will be able to provide better care and companionship for a loved one with dementia if you are rested and in good health. Taking advantage of all the help and support available for dementia carers and knowing when to seek additional assistance with the care of a loved one is very important.

How to understand dementia better

Dementia is caused by a progressive decline in brain functioning which can cause many different symptoms.

Caring for someone with dementia can be challenging and their needs are likely to change considerably as the illness progresses.

Learning more about dementia can help friends and relatives to gain a better understanding of what their loved one is going through.

Being taught strategies for communicating with, and caring for, those with dementia can make things easier for carers and help those with dementia to feel more relaxed, comfortable, and independent.

Dementia awareness course

One simple way to learn more about dementia is to take a short Dementia Awareness course like the one we run here at Care Business Associate Training.

Our three-hour Dementia Awareness training course is run online in a virtual classroom, making it easily accessible to anyone.

Key areas that the course covers include:

  • What is dementia and what causes it?
  • The different types of dementia
  • Other conditions with similar symptoms
  • Symptoms of dementia
  • How to support and care for someone with dementia
  • Strategies for communicating with and caring for someone with dementia

Gaining a better understanding of dementia can make it easier for you to provide more effective care or support to a loved one with the condition to improve their quality of life.