World Alzheimer’s Month: How best to support a family member diagnosed with the disease

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Despite Dementia affecting greater than 50 million individuals worldwide, with Alzheimer’s contributing to an estimated 60-70% of these instances, there are nonetheless a lot of misconceptions and misunderstanding round the disease – which is why, each September, World Alzheimer’s Month goals to increase consciousness.

It could really feel fully overwhelming, unhappy and scary when somebody in the family is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and it’s pure to fear that you simply’re saying all the flawed issues. So how best are you able to support them, whereas nonetheless guaranteeing they really feel empowered and as unbiased as attainable?

It’s regular to really feel a sense of grief your self 

Fran Vandelli, a dementia lead for Bupa Care Homes (bupa.co.uk/care-services), says: “It’s never easy hearing that a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and feelings of grief or upset are normal.

“However, it’s important to remember that with the right support, people with dementia can live well and you’ve still got time to make good memories together.

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“The feelings of grief should pass as you come to terms with the news.” If they’re persistent or affecting your capability to stay usually although, do converse to your physician or contact the Alzheimer’s Association for support. As a cherished considered one of a individual with dementia, it’s vital to take care of your self too.

Don’t be afraid to discuss to them about reminiscences 

Remember that they’re nonetheless the similar individual you understand and love, so you’ll be able to nonetheless discuss the issues they like, says Vandelli. In truth, it will possibly actually assist them for those who achieve this.

“While someone in the earlier stages of dementia might not be able to remember last night’s football match, they might still be able to share stories of how they used to watch their favourite team growing up. If your loved one finds themselves unable to find the right words to express themselves, watch and listen carefully as they could be using gestures or facial expressions.”

Don’t be afraid to say for those who haven’t fairly understood what they’ve meant although, she explains, “and feel free to offer a word if you think you know what they’re trying to say.”

Be tactful although. “Try not to talk over someone, finish their sentences or cut them off from contributing. Just because they can’t find the words, doesn’t mean they have nothing to say,” Vandelli factors out.

If they’re in the later phases of dementia or if answering questions is turning into overwhelming for them, she suggests utilizing easy closed ‘yes/no’ questions, or providing selections utilizing objects as visible prompts. For instance providing a cup of tea with a tea bag.

Try to be affected person and optimistic 

“One of the most important things you can do is be patient,” says Vandelli. “When people living with dementia are confused, they can get upset or frustrated, but you can be a calming influence and help them feel better. Be there to offer a shoulder to cry on, and a morale boost when they need it.

“For people living with dementia of any type, the focus is often on what they can’t do rather than what they can do. They may stop being asked to babysit their grandchildren or nip to the shops, which can feel disempowering, especially if they’re still able to do these things.”

Don’t instantly take over

Offer support however solely the place it’s wanted, advises Vandelli – notably in the earlier phases of Alzheimer’s.

“Don’t rush to take over things like cooking or managing bills, as this may reduce your love one’s skills before it’s necessary. Instead, empower them to do things themselves or offer to do things together. Setting reminders on their calendar like ‘take out the bins’ can help them retain a sense of independence,” she says.

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There could also be some modifications you can also make with them round the house to assist. “Decluttering will not only make it easier for people to find the things they need, but reduce their chances of trips and falls, which increase as the condition progresses,” she says. “As the condition progresses, it may also be useful to start labelling items or rooms around the home, so people know where they’re going and how to switch things on and off.”

Ultimately, it’s vital to hold them concerned. Even in case you are serving to out with cooking or gardening, provide to do it with them quite than do it your self. In truth, serving to them retain this degree of independence will help them stay nicely with Alzheimer’s.

Plan for the future

There will in all probability come a time while you want support and might have  a care house. “There’s no shame in reaching out for this kind of help,” Vandelli says. “It’s all about finding the best outcomes for your loved one and can ultimately have a positive impact on everyone involved.

“By being proactive now, you can get a good idea of the support available, which will help you move quickly when it’s needed.”

Know that simply being there helps

In the later phases of Alzheimer’s or one other type of dementia, you would possibly surprise if it’s even price visiting if they will’t keep in mind the go to or don’t totally perceive who you’re. But, as Vandelli says, a individual’s want for social contact doesn’t disappear as a result of they’ve the disease.

“The feelings of companionship and purpose go hand in hand,” she says. “Even in the later stages of the condition, when your loved one might struggle to recognise you or remember your time together, they can still benefit from knowing that they have someone nearby.

“Simple things, like holding someone’s hand and reassuring them can make a huge difference.”

More info on dementia, and the way to support individuals residing with the situation, might be discovered at bupa.co.uk/dementia.

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