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Dementia is a disease that can bring grief to a family if it isn’t handled correctly. There are so many myths circulating about this illness, which means many people do not understand that dementia is, in fact, a manageable condition. Many families living with a dementia patient can find some peace and a little stability. It just takes a clear understanding of what dementia is and how it can be managed. We’ve discussed what dementia is in a previous blog, which you can read here, so in this blog we will focus on the managing aspect of the disease.

Avoid Meltdowns

There will always be cues that your loved one isn’t comfortable and a meltdown could be building. When you start to see those cues, check the environment for uncomfortable conditions. Look at the clock and consider the routine to rule out medication, hunger, thirst or sleep. Adjust the temperatures, provide a little company or get visitors out of the room. As you get to know the disease, you will find that certain things almost always set your loved one off, so those are the things you correct first to avoid a meltdown. If everything is fine, it is time to distract them. Use a favorite item or conversation topic. Maybe it’s time for an activity like a walk outside-fresh air is great for dementia patients, and exercise can help too. Soothing the patient is important if nothing else works. Soft tones, touching or hugs if welcome (always approach the person from the front and slowly) or simply talking is sometimes enough to thwart the dreaded meltdown.

Communication

The way you speak with your loved one also matters. You must avoid confrontation and too many questions coming too rapidly. If you must ask a question, keep the phrasing simple and leave plenty of time for the person to answer. In fact, all of your communication should be simple, loud enough to hear and clearly spoken. Avoid current slang terms, and try to keep the sentences short if the person is easily confused. Always offer reassurance, and be prepared to repeat statements and questions as needed. Engage the person in conversation regularly to help curb loneliness.

Medical Appointments

Another very important part of living with someone with dementia is maintaining their medical treatments, appointments and care. Some of the worst parts of the disease can be brought on by other conditions left undiagnosed or complications due to medication. Keep regular appointments with their doctors and hire home care if needed to keep your loved one in the best shape possible. Good health is one important way to slow the progression of the dementia as well.

Support Groups

Everyone touched by dementia in any way will need an outlet to express their frustrations, joys and fears. Many medical institutions offer groups for families and patients. Being around other people going through the same thing can help you and the person suffering from the dementia. It will also give you another chance at an activity that everyone can enjoy. If you can’t get out of the house, there are plenty of online chat groups. Telephone helplines are also available with the support you need to get through the frustration and tips to help as well.

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