Helping a Loved One With Dementia
People with dementia often develop behavioral problems because of frustration with specific situations. Understanding and modifying or preventing the situations that trigger these behaviors may help to make life more pleasant for the person with dementia as well as his or her caregivers.
For instance, the person may be confused or frustrated by the level of activity or noise in the surrounding environment. Reducing unnecessary activity and noise (such as by limiting the number of visitors and turning off the television when it's not in use) may make it easier for the person to understand requests and perform simple tasks.
Caregivers may also reduce confusion in people with dementia by:
- Simplifying home decorations
- Removing clutter
- Keeping familiar objects nearby
- Following a predictable routine throughout the day.
Calendars and clocks also may help patients orient themselves.
Caregivers should encourage people with dementia to continue their normal leisure activities as long as they are safe and do not cause frustration. Activities such as crafts, games, and music can provide important mental stimulation and improve mood. Some studies have suggested that participating in exercise and intellectually stimulating activities may slow the decline of cognitive function in some people.
Many studies have found that driving is unsafe for people with dementia. They often get lost and they may have problems remembering or following the rules of the road. They may also have difficulty processing information quickly and dealing with unexpected circumstances.
Even a second of confusion while driving can lead to an accident. Driving with impaired cognitive functions can also endanger others.
Some experts have suggested that regular screening for changes in cognition might help to reduce the number of driving accidents among elderly people, and some states now require that doctors report people with Alzheimer's disease to their state motor vehicle department. However, in many cases, it is up to the person's family and friends to ensure that the person does not drive.