Dealing with dementia

Eventually, due to our ever-increasing ageing population, we will all in some way or another have to deal with or encounter — dementia. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is a condition that is progressive but not part of the natural ageing process. According to WHO, dementia is caused by various brain illnesses that affect the memory, thinking, behaviour, and our ability to perform our daily routine and everyday activities. With a reported 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, it is likely that some of you who are reading this article are already possibly caring for a parent or relative who is living with dementia. There are new cases diagnosed every year globally which is the equivalent to one diagnosis every four seconds. The World Health Organisation (WHO) expects the number of people with dementia to double over the next 20 years. And by the year 2050, there will be over 100 million people diagnosed and living with the condition. And that is why some of us will be dealing with this condition in the future. I mention this because I am dealing with an aging Mum who is living with dementia. And so as a carer of someone who is living with the condition, I have established various tips that I have found helpful in dealing with this condition that I would like to share with you. Firstly, always be patient. As you will sadly have to answer the same question numerous times. This continuous, near ongoing exercise will at the end of a tiring day, test your patience. And you will need to be prepared for this. Your parent will need you to treat them with the same patience that they gave you as a child. It was at this point, where I found having to deal with the repetitive questions much easier to accept and deal with. Remember a person who is living with dementia cannot help themselves from doing this. Secondly, always be understanding of their situation. And remember that they themselves haven't chosen to be this way. They didn’t ask for dementia to come into their life and they didn’t cause it either. In fact, someone who is living with dementia more likely doesn't always understand what the condition is doing to them. This requires you to have a lot of understanding. It will also be testing, painful and emotional for you, as you remember how they were before they were diagnosed with dementia. To help, just try and imagine a situation where someone you were speaking with didn’t understand what you were trying to say/do and how frustrated you became. As sadly, that is where people who are living with dementia are all the time. Some of those living with dementia experience moments of recognition where they will realise they are struggling, but to make matters worse they simply don’t know how to deal with it. So your understanding of the situation will be essential for these testing times. Lastly, as also in life, it is important to simply be kind. Try to respond with soothing tones. Ensure you speak with gentle words because the last thing a person needs that is living with dementia is more internal strife and stress. Even though I didn’t have a close relationship with my dad when growing up, I am finding that as I care for them both during these difficult times, we are all getting even closer to each other. I use this opportunity as a time to show them both that I love them both. It actually helps make hard days easier.

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