The effects of mental illness can often be just as bad, if not worse than their physical counterparts, especially for the elderly and their respective caretakers. Whereas a bodily injury can render an individual incapable of performing everyday tasks, and thus make them increasingly more dependent on their loved ones, that person has a conscious awareness of their surroundings and can effectively communicate their needs.
For example, if he or she is experiencing pain or needs to use the restroom,telling a relative what they want is easy enough. On the other hand, disorders that affect the mind and thought processes — such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, greatly complicate matters and make managing day-to-day living nearly impossible at times.
Dealing with Dementia In a Healthy Way: An Approach That Works
If your loved one suffers from dementia, you know how difficult it can be to give them the care they need without them (and you) getting frustrated and upset. Likewise, keeping them calm and collected can be an even greater challenge, especially if their dementia has transitioned into a severe state. According to the National Center on Caregiving, frustration for both dementia sufferers and their caregivers is a huge component of the disorder. He or she may have trouble communicating, or even worse, be completely unaware that something is wrong.
The physical side effects of mental disorders aside, the pain associated with long-term memory loss and confusion is difficult to put into words. For caregivers of dementia, being mistaken for someone else or hearing your loved one talk or ask about a relative/friend that passed away years ago are just some examples of what they deal with on a daily basis.
One of the best things you can do to cope with the anxiety, frustration, and possible depression that dementia brings, is to take a deep breath and relax. Step back from the situation and realize that the situation is no one’s fault, that what is happening is a direct result of a mental disease, something that cannot be controlled but only reacted to.
Don’t Let the Disease Win: Assisted Care For Aging Patients With Dementia
Working with dementia patients is far from easy, but there are certain techniques that make the circumstances less stressful. One of the most important things of all is to realize, that when it comes to dementia, logical responses are often futile. Many adults with dementia have lost the ability to communicate in a logical, cohesive manner.
Thus, when attempting to figure out what is wrong, the Alzheimer’s Society recommends that loved ones always ask simple, easy to understand questions, namely those requiring a yes or no answer. Direct the conversation by not probing; keep talks at the surface level.
Remember that you and your loved one are only human, and you will make mistakes. Few people have the willpower needed to care for dementia patients, so learn to stop the self-blame and doubt. Take breaks, listen to relaxing music, start meditating, anything you can do to keep your mental clarity in check. Last, but certainly not least, never take any of your loved one’s negative words or actions as truth. They do not mean them, it is merely the disease speaking.
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