Are you or someone you know living with Dementia? Impacting almost half a million Australians, dementia can be difficult to live with, both as a carer and for those who are experiencing it. Dementia Action Week is an initiative to increase awareness about dementia and how best to support those who live with it, and will take place this September 20 – 26. Doing what you can to assist those with dementia in a respectful and dignified way is key to maintaining relationships and improving quality of life.
Dementia affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks to varying levels. It’s also important to remember it can happen to anybody, not just older people. The key to effectively treating dementia is early recognition and diagnosis. Early signs to keep an eye out for include progressive and frequent memory loss, confusion, personality change, apathy, withdrawal and the loss of ability to perform everyday tasks.
Discovering your family member or friend has been diagnosed with dementia can induce feelings of shock, anger, loss and denial. Remember that the person diagnosed may also be experiencing strong emotions of sadness, confusion, anxiety, embarrassment, fear or anger and will likely need your support more than ever.
There are things you can do to maintain the special bond when a family member or friend is living with dementia. Tips to help you communicate with and support your loved one include:
• Using clear communication with close ended questions or questions with obvious answers
• Focusing on the person they are now, and respect what they are dealing with
• Staying in touch and keeping up old habits
• Being specific when offering practical assistance
• Providing support without taking over so they can do as much as they can for as long as possible
• Listening while giving them time to respond and finish sentences
• Provide reassuring human contact such as holding hands, linking arms or offering hugs
• Making eye contact and using body language
• Not always taking them literally
• Having a flexible attitude. Things may not go to plan, and that’s okay.
If you feel like someone in your life may be experiencing dementia or needs further support, reach out to our team to discuss your options, and start planning today. For more information on living with dementia, visit https://www.dementia.org.au
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