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5 Signs Your Loved One With Dementia Needs Support

Loved One With Dementia

Aging in place is often the preferred choice for many individuals because it allows for familiarity, comfort and independence.  However, when a loved one has dementia, the decision becomes more complex.  Dementia brings unique challenges that can making aging in place no longer appropriate or safe.  Making the decision to hire help in the home or move your loved one out of their home can be an overwhelming and conflicting decision.  Here are five signs indicating that your loved one with dementia may need additional support to ensure their overall well-being and safety.

1. Health Concerns

 

Medication management – missing medication or not taking medication as prescribed by the healthcare provider can cause health problems and result in conditions that are not well controlled.

Personal hygiene – resistance to bathe, shower or maintain proper hygiene can lead to infections, and incontinence of bladder and / or bowel requires routine assistance to avoid associated health issues.

Poor nutrition or weight loss – difficulty preparing meals, experiencing reduced appetite or difficulty feeding oneself can result in malnutrition and weight loss.

2.  Cognitive and Behavioral Challenges

 

Memory loss – can affect your loved one’s ability to complete activities of daily living and hands on care becomes necessary, and they may no longer recognize familiar faces which can cause confusion.

Agitation or Aggression – these types of behaviors can include yelling, hitting, or biting and can be difficult to manage at home if it poses a risk to your loved one with dementia or others.

Sundowning – agitation and confusion can become worse in the afternoon causing your loved one with dementia to be quite unsettled, and these behaviors can become difficult to manage at home without support.

3.  Safety Concerns

 

Wandering or eloping – if your loved one is getting lost or attempting to leave the home without supervision or wandering into unsafe areas of the home such as a dark basement without proper stairs and railing, this poses a safety risk.

Kitchen safety – forgetting to turn off the stove, burning or undercooking food, and leaving food in the microwave for an inappropriate amount of time can increase the risk for a fire, electrical injury or food poisoning.

Frequent falls – dementia can impair balance, vision, and one’s judgement increasing the risk for falls and injury so it’s important that the home be free of falls risks and that the appropriate assistive devices are in place.

4.  Socialization and Mental Health

 

Isolation – dementia can lead to social withdraw because of confusion, fear or difficulty navigating outside of the home, and lack of cognitive stimulation and interaction with others can accelerate cognitive decline.

Emotional well-being – depression and anxiety is not uncommon in dementia patients and feelings of sadness, hopelessness or anxiety may require additional evaluation and treatment from a healthcare professional.

5.  Caregiver Burden

 

Caregiver burnout – if you are providing care to your loved one with dementia, it can be physically and emotionally exhausting which may affect your ability to provide the right care to them and for yourself.

Signs and symptoms of burnout – include fatigue, irritability or agitation, changes in sleep or appetite, feeling stress, frequent body aches, lack of motivation, isolation, feeling hopeless or helpless, using alcohol, food or drugs to cope.

Lack of resources – families may not have the expertise, resources or financial means to manage the complex needs of a dementia patient so securing professionals to support you may be necessary.

Making the Decision

 

Recognizing these signs is the first step in making an informed decision about the level of support your loved one needs.  It’s important to talk with all family members to gain their perspective and collectively determine if aging in place is appropriate, or in home support is needed.  Consider enlisting the help of an unbiased professional who isn’t emotionally invested to assess the situation, and work with you to develop a plan for the future.  With careful planning and support, it’s possible to achieve a better quality of life for both your loved one with dementia and your family.  For an expert assessment, please contact me to schedule a consultation, the initial phone consultation is always complimentary.