Caring for someone living with dementia
Whether you are living with dementia yourself or caring for a loved one living with dementia, we know that much of your concern or fear may come from not knowing what is likely to happen in the future. We recognise that every person living with dementia is different and every carer’s situation is different.
Caring for someone living with dementia can be challenging. Trying to see the individual not the disease can be difficult, but can help you cope with supporting your loved one during this time. The way that you communicate and take time for yourself as a carer is also vital.
Our Person First approach to supporting each person living with dementia
At Bupa Aged Care we put you first in everything we do. Your experiences, well-being, needs and feelings are at the centre of our care and support. Find out more about our Person First approach to caring for someone living with dementia.
What is dementia?
Dementia is the term used to describe the deterioration of brain function that impact and disable a person in the following ways;
- Memory loss – having difficulty remembering recent events. Over time this will also impact longer term memory.
- Difficulties with communication; people may have trouble with word finding, naming people and objects. People may have trouble understanding others and being understood. This can also be very frustrating for the person and for their family and friends.
- Difficulties with reasoning and rationale. Often a person will have trouble making sense of what is happening around them and may not be accepting of others explanations, as they cannot perceive things the way they used to.
- Loss of daily living skills over time. Many long held skills and abilities may remain but the person needs support to maintain these and to also negotiate unfamiliar places and activities of daily life. They may need help or prompting to initiate activities like getting dressed or to complete those same things.
Dementia is not one specific disease. In fact, there are over 100 different types of dementia. The most common types of dementia are;
- Alzheimer’s disease;
- Vascular dementia; and
- Dementia with lewy bodies.
Watch the video to gain an understanding of key questions, such as:
- What is dementia?
- Is dementia hereditary?
- What should I do if I notice potential signs of dementia?
The importance of an early diagnosis of dementia
If you’re caring for someone who you think may have dementia, an early dementia diagnosis can be incredibly helpful by;
- Enabling you to identify sources of support and advice;
- Supporting you to cope with caring for and supporting the person;
- Allowing the individual to benefit from the current dementia care treatments available; and importantly
- Helping you both plan for the future.
How dementia is diagnosed
Getting a diagnosis of dementia can sometimes take a little time. Physical and neurological examinations may also be undertaken to rule out other illnesses or conditions. For example, blood and urine tests may be completed to help exclude other causes of confusion and memory loss.
If a doctor believes that an individual may have dementia, they'll refer the person to a specialist (a neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist) for diagnosis. A diagnosis is usually made based on a number of tests and procedures. These include assessing cognitive abilities with tests that measure memory, language and concentration.