How Dementia Affects Your Loved One’s Independence

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Declining Health Means More Help Is Necessary

Confusion, forgetfulness and combativeness are some initial signs of early-onset dementia. This can be a stressful time for families who are unsure of what lies ahead. It can also have a big effect on someone’s independence, leading to a major shift in their lifestyle. Here are ways that dementia affects your loved one’s independence and some solutions and options moving forward.

Communication

One thing that becomes a barrier issue with a dementia patient is communication. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect areas of the brain that inhibit vocal and cognitive thinking. While many patients feel confused, some days more than others, it can make communication challenging.

This is especially true when trying to talk to doctors or others where specific instructions need to be followed. Having someone who is an advocate who can also speak on behalf of the patient can be beneficial and prolong independence.

Be sure to have the proper legal paperwork in place for a loved one, like a living will and durable power of attorney. These make sure family members have access to doctors, records and also a voice in the decision-making process.

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Independent Living Solutions

Forgetfulness is at the forefront with many dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. This can make living alone unsafe. Safety is at stake if they forget to take their medications or leave the stove on because they forget they’re cooking.

In these instances, assisted living is an option. Some facilities offer memory care which focuses on keeping patients safe in a thriving environment. They also help reiterate cognitive skills with helpful reminders and ongoing daily therapy.

Physical Changes

As dementia and Alzheimer’s disease progress, there are often changes to the entire body. The brain stops responding to certain stimuli, resulting in the patient forgetting to shower and take care of personal hygiene issues.

Brain cells and connections can weaken and shrink, making normal thought patterns deteriorate. This also makes it easier for pneumonia and infections to settle in.

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Staying in close contact with the patient’s neurologist or family doctor through routine appointments is the best way to delay progression and help them retain independence for as long as possible.

Seeking Help

Does a loved one live with the caregiver now because of problems with self-sufficiency? It’s important to seek help with personal care and supervision so the caregiver receives frequent breaks, as they need to make self-care a priority. Caregivers can benefit from things like meeting up with friends, getting a massage or attending a yoga class.

Dementia affects not only the patient but the entire family. It has to be a group effort to make it treatment work and help them maintain their independence for as long as they can. Be sure to check into local resources and reach out for help and assistance when needed.

~Here’s to Your Financial Health!

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