Dementia is a brain disorder that diminishes memory, thinking and the ability to communicate, making daily self-care difficult and average daily activities challenging to perform. Many people have memory loss issues and this does not automatically mean that they have Alzheimer’s or another dementia. While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of the following primary functions must be considerably impaired to be considered dementia:
- Communication and language
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
People who have dementia may have difficulties with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse of wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments or traveling out of their neighborhood. Many dementias are progressive, meaning symptoms start out slowly and gradually get worst. It is important for anyone who is caring for a person with dementia (whether they are a professional, a family caregiver or a healthcare professional) to learn about dementia in order to best assist the person who is suffering from it.
There is a saying that expresses that everyone will be a caregiver or need care at some point in their life. The older population is increasing and the number of those with dementia has increased as well. Whether you are a checkout person at a grocery store, a financial advisor or a family member, the chances are substantial that we will all be touched by dementia. This is what makes education regarding dementia and care so important.
For those who will be caring for a person with dementia, creating an individualized plan that thoroughly encompasses everything about a person that makes them unique, including their character, preferences, interests, life history, skills and experiences is vital. Knowing the person’s likes, dislikes and daily routines helps to identify meaningful and enjoyable activities for the person to participate in, rather than forcing a list of mandated care tasks upon them and leaving out any factor of who they are as an individual.