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17 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Have Dementia

17 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Have Dementia

Many people mistake dementia as a disease and as a natural consequence of getting older when it is actually the result of damage to brain cells that affect memory. Dementia affects 47.5 million people today and there is no cure for this syndrome.

Even though Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases, many forms of dementia are a result of injury or stroke. Consequently, dementia is not always progressive and can have an immediate impact on families and friends who aren’t prepared.

For many who have dementia, they face unfair criticism because there’s no test to determine if one has this syndrome. Not surprisingly, people who have dementia can be incredibly confused about why they are having memory problems.

The good news: doctors can determine whether a person has dementia with a high degree of confidence. Still, we must stay vigilant to not criticize or condemn others when they forget things because the truth is we don’t know the cause until it’s identified.

And if you can remember these seventeen things, you’ll have a better understanding of the challenges your loved one with dementia experiences:

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1. They will lose their sense of direction

People with dementia have a tendency to lose their sense of direction. It can start with forgetting particular landmarks that once helped them navigate their neighborhood. As a result, you should help them by making lists of where they like to go with detailed and visual instructions.

2. They will lose track of where they keep things

“I can’t remember where I put my keys!” From the smallest things that fit in our pocket to the bigger possessions in our lives like cars, forgetting them can’t take a tremendous mental and often physical toll on people with dementia.

3. They will repeat themselves

“I heard that story yesterday.” People with dementia forget many of the things they say, especially stories. Be careful not to interrupt them and belittle their enthusiasm to tell a story you’ve heard for the tenth time. Instead, ask different questions each time they’re deep in storytelling so the story will take on a new life.

4. They will find difficulty in doing simple tasks

From balancing a checkbook to playing poker, simple tasks will begin to seem more complicated to them. As a result, they may get frustrated with the task and even at others. Don’t let their mood affect yours and remain motivated and willing to help them.

5. They won’t always follow a storyline

Not only will people with dementia repeat stories, but they may leave out huge pieces of the stories they tell. From forgetting particular words to being unable to follow a T.V. show storyline, these are classic warning signs to look out for.

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6. They can lack empathy

Having dementia can be a burden on your confidence, adventure, and emotional well-being. Consequently, people with dementia may stop going out and participating in their regular hobbies and activities. I suggest trying your best to excite them about having fun because depression makes having dementia much worse.

7. They can become angry quickly

Sudden anger outbursts, depression, and heightened hysteria are all signs of dementia. Also, it’s not always just a one-time thing, you may see a complete change in personality because when memory is affected, judgment is too.

8. They will find themselves confused

When it’s difficult to remember friends, family, and faces, people with dementia can experience overwhelming confusion. Moreover, when they try to fix the issue by explaining their point of view, they often can’t find the right words; this exacerbates the problem. Stay kind and comforting while they go through periods of disorientation.

9. They will struggle to adapt to change

Imagine being told you have dementia. Many people would react with fear and shock. Having dementia means you need to take precautionary steps to prepare for increasing symptoms. Adventurous and independent people may see these steps as irrational and as obstacles to living their normal lives.

10. They won’t always remember they love you

This is one of the hardest characteristics of dementia that affects loved ones. Having sparent, grandparents, or siblings forget who you are can be extremely tough to bear. You have to remember that it’s not them, but the symptoms of dementia. Deep down inside they will always love you.

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11. They need friendship more than ever

People with dementia can feel isolated because it’s hard to prepare for worsening symptoms, and they may perceive that they’re going through this “journey” alone. Make sure they have constant reminders that you’re there for them and won’t be leaving anytime soon.

12. They are just as uncertain about the future as you are

Whether you’re a recent college graduate or in your late seventies, all of us are uncertain about what the future holds in terms of accomplishing our goals. It’s important we realize that many people with dementia have dreams they still want to achieve, too. Moreover, we should try to help them achieve these dreams before they get discouraged.

13. They are part of the nearly 7.7 million worldwide new cases of dementia each year

In other words, one new case happens every four seconds. This doesn’t mean that people with dementia are just a statistic. What this means is that dementia is a common struggle that millions of people go through. As a result, it’s important to reach out for help and advice from those who have gone through the same struggle.

14. They may not recognize the same sounds as they are used to

The music your loved one once adored now disturbs them, or they’ve suddenly taken an interest in jazz. Finding the right music for someone with dementia can be a bit of a roller coaster ride. The upside is that once you find something that attracts their taste, you’ll more than likely put a smile on their face.

15. They are not carrying a disease

People often confuse dementia as a natural disease that people receive as they age. However, dementia is not natural and not something someone else can give you — it’s just a syndrome. We should strive to educate others about dementia, so they are not scared to help.

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16. They may have problems moving

People with dementia can find themselves in prolonged states of immobility. When someone’s confused and struggles to adapt to change, they become fearful; as a result, they decide keep to themselves. What they need is for their loved ones to guide them and help them embrace life no matter how small the baby steps are.

17. They need your encouragement

This sounds obvious, but encouragement is not something that’s always built strong within people, especially after years of helping a loved one with dementia. It can be a huge boulder to carry, so make sure to reach out to those currently caring for someone with dementia.

The number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 75.6 million in 2030, so we must come to terms with it. Even though we can’t prevent dementia, we can still improve our memory. Keeping an active mind, staying away from medication with adverse side effects, not excessively drinking, a good sleep schedule, and maintaining a healthy diet are just a few ways to keep your memory sharp.

Moreover, stay open-minded and if you see someone acting strange, remember that an early diagnosis can help those with dementia tremendously by helping them prepare for the future.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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