Dementia is associated with so many diseases and all are not the same. Some dementia is the loss of short-term memory (Alzheimer’s); some is spotty and does not seem to have any clear path to help us help our friend (cardiovascular); and some appears mean and destructive (depression). The names attributed to the different dementias above are only one example of that type of memory loss. We must know what kind of dementia is affecting our friend to help them. And yes we can help.
If we are not sure what is going on; we should stick to the emotion of the problem. The emotion can be the breaker of the deal. If a person is suffering dementia due to the lack of hydration or improperly administered medications; no matter what we do unless a medical intervention to stabilize the situation is accomplished soon this could catastrophic results. In other words if the dementia is caused by a fact that can be determined and corrected quickly, it is of great importance that this happen soon.
If the dementia is due to a disease that the person is affected by (Alzheimer’s, MS, Huntington’s, Stroke and so many more) we will be able to work with this situation. Even when the person is unable to speak in a clear sentence, we can help with not asking questions (which calls attention to the frustration of the situation) but going to the emotion of the situation. So many times a person suffering from this type of dementia is also depressed because they are locked in a world which they cannot get out of. They can hear others, they can think about what they hear, they can intellectually understand all that is happening; they simply cannot convey their needs, wishes or feelings. www.nationalmentalhealth.com
Caregivers are the gatekeepers, advocates and lifeline for these folks.