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Giving Someone Diagnosed with Dementia a Helping Hand

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Posted on 15th March 2011.

15 March 2011

Giving Someone Diagnosed with Dementia a Helping Hand.

Awareness of dementia is increasing in the developed world and each country has its own strategies to deal with it. These strategies are normally put in place by the Alzheimer’s Association in each country but because of the monetary implications of dementia care, governments are becoming more aware of the disease and the care required for sufferers, so have started to fund research into the disease.

Studies have already shown that the treatment for dementia is more effective at the early stages, so this means that it is very important for doctors and the specialists involved to correctly diagnose dementia as early as possible. This will allow for treatment to be started as early as possible and more importantly for the patient and their loved ones to start taking extra care of themselves and make any alterations needed to diet, fitness, general lifestyle and in and around the home.

Having someone that you care about diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be devastating but there are a number of things that you can do to help them and bring you peace of mind.

At the early stages of dementia there are very simple things that can be done to allow people to stay in their own homes. Simple alterations to the way in which things are laid out and displayed will make a huge difference to the person suffering from this devastating disease, as well as alleviate some of the burden and worry from the carer or their loved ones.

Dementia is called a wasting disease, because the sufferer tends to loose weight as they loose interest in food or generally forget to eat. To stop this happening, food needs to look appetising and be accessible. This is easily done by placing food in a central accessible part of the home, where the resident can easily help themselves to throughout the day.

Replacing a standard fridge with a glass fronted one, such as those found in supermarkets or restaurants will allow the person to see what it contains and stimulate them to eat or drink. This will also help with the managing of supplies, as a carer or loved on will not need to poke around the fridge checking to see what it contains and that there is a good quantity and variety of food available.

Either replacing kitchen cupboard doors with clear inserts such as Perspex or simply placing easy to see pictures and words of what they contain will help the individual identify what the cupboards contain.

Clearly marking rooms and other household cupboards with either pictures, words or both, so as to again clearly identify what they contain.

A clock that shows whether it is day or night, morning, afternoon or evening and that displays the time in analogue, which would be more familiar than a digital display will help greatly with confusion and routines. These can be purchased very easily online.

Special telephones can be obtained that as well as having a normal keypad, they have large buttons displaying pictures of loved ones, so all they have to do is press one button showing the face of the person that they want to call. This will stop the stress of having to remember and key in long telephone numbers.

Another important thing to always remember is that most people suffering from dementia are elderly and with age comes yellowing of the eyes resulting in drastic changes to depth perception. This means that uneven or changes in surfaces can result in trips and falls. The best way to avoid this is to make all level surfaces one uniform colour and maintain uniform lighting throughout the living accommodation.

By following some of these simple measures, you can drastically improve someone’s quality of life as well as give yourself peace of mind that you have done everything that you can to make them as comfortable and safe as possible.

Sally Tomkotowicz