Caring for elderly relatives is rarely an easy experience, even for those individuals who have been doing so for many years. Every day brings with it a host of new challenges that need to be overcome, and there are often times when it seems there is nowhere to turn to for help and advice. The truth, however, is that vital guidance and informed opinion is always available on the Internet.
One of the most upsetting conditions to have to deal with is also one that is becoming increasingly common. Dementia is on the rise in the UK, and can affect anyone at almost any time. For the sufferer, it can mean immense frustration and a loss of touch with reality and the outside world, and eventually it can lead to a loss of more than just memory. In many cases, the victim ends up having to move to a care home because they simply can’t cope any longer.
In many instances of dementia, the relatives suffer more than the patient. The level of care that’s needed goes way beyond the physical needs of the victim. For example, ensuring the individual is safe from harm involves far more than simply keeping them warm and well-fed. The patient will not remember to take regular doses of medicine, for instance, so constant round the clock arrangements needs to be made and adhered to.
While there is plenty of conjecture about the reasons for the increase in dementia cases, we’re still not certain about the facts. Similarly, a cure isn’t forthcoming, either, and many agencies are conducting intensive research into the matter. So far, it seems the most we can hope to do is slow down the speed with which it develops in those unfortunate enough to suffer from it.
Relatives and friends who engage in conversation with dementia sufferers can be forgiven for the occasional loss of patience. In many cases, this can involve answering the same questions over and over again, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to discover that even the most mild-mannered person can occasionally snap. At such times, it’s important to remember that the victim thinks he or she is asking the question for the very first time.
One of the major frustrations for dementia sufferers and those around them is that as the short-term memory deteriorates, there is very little change in the long-term memory. The individual can clearly remember his or her first days at school, for example, but will fail to recall a conversation that took place in the previous ten minutes. It’s one of the many cruel aspects of this unpleasant and traumatic condition.
As the dementia worsens, it’s often the case that sufferers become increasingly reluctant to break from any routine. There is something comforting to them in knowing how every day is intended to pan out, and any suggestions to make a break from the norm will often be met with a look of disapproval. With this in mind, it would be prudent to take sufferers out for trips in the early stages, because they may not be so keen to go later on in life.
In the UK, the West Country is a popular location for days out, and caters for elderly visitors particularly well. It’s comforting to know that when it comes to facilities such as hotels, entertainment venues and car hire, Bournemouth is a common choice. Making the most of the latter years of a relative is an important issue, because once the dementia takes hold it will be difficult to enjoy pleasant days out again.
When speaking with a dementia sufferer, it’s often important to remain positive and upbeat during conversations. In many cases, the individual will keep asking questions because he or she needs reassurance that everything in life is alright. For example, they may constantly ask about their possessions and their finances. Maintaining an air of assurance and contentment can help them to feel better during what is a very difficult time.
For family members who are struggling to cope with the difficulties, it’s vital that as many people as possible share the burden of care. If several relatives are involved, the stress can be shared out among everyone, rather than be centred on just one or two of the closer ones. This shared responsibility makes things easier for the patient as well, and keeps their interaction with others as varied as possible.
photo credit: Rosie O’Beirne via photopin cc