There are many problems a person develop that can be associated with dementia.
So it could be beneficial to you as the carer if you learn and understand how to deal with problems associated with dementia should they arise.
It is also important to remember to always keep the dignity, respect and privacy of the individual who has the dementia. No matter how difficult the problems get.
There is always help on hand. Why not visit a local dementia cafe, you will find a wealth of information and support.
This can vary in person to person and can also change as the dementia progresses in an individual with the disease. There are a few difficulties that you may experience when communicating with the individual. Some of them may be:
- Repetition – The individual continually repeats themselves
- Slowness in speech – The individual speaks very slowly, often trying to find the words
- dysplasia – This is an inability to say or understand words
- Continuously talking – This can be a sign of anxiety or discomfort with something
- Non-communication – This can be one of the biggest problems associated with dementia,Especially to the carer because it becomes more difficult to communicate with the person. Understanding how they feel and what they want to happen becomes increasingly difficult.
- Loosing track – Dementia sufferers will often forget what they were talking about. This is because it becomes increasingly difficult for a person with dementia to concentrate and remember things. As a carer you may have to take up the conversation and fill in certain words for the person
- Muddled conversation – As the dementia progresses in a person the words that they use to communicate may become harder to understand. This may be because they use the wrong words to describe something. As a carer, it may be helpful to try to guess the words the person is trying to use and help fill in the words if they are struggling with speaking words.
You can learn more about communication with a person with dementia here
Sleep Disturbance problems associated with dementia
Restlessness at bed time is a very common problem with dementia. It can also be very frustrating for the carer if you live or especially if you sleep in the same room as the person. If the person is living in a care home it can become a problem if the person wanders from their room and disturb other residents during the night. It may be worth investing in a bed sensor mat. These allow you as the carer to be alerted if the person leaves their bed during the night. Below are some reasons why a person may suffer from broken and irregular sleep –
- Is the person sleeping too much during the day?
- Is the person looking for the toilet?
- Are they hungry?
- Is the lack of sleep due to their medication?
- Are they in pain?
- Are they going to bed to early?
- Are they to hot/cold during the night?
One of the most difficult problems associated with dementia is aggression. Not only is it physically difficult to control a person who is showing aggression but it can also be difficult to try to understand why the person is aggressive towards you or others. It can also be difficult to try to understand what triggers a person to get aggressive. Some points to look for are
- Is the person frustrated?
- Are the being correctly prescribed medication?
- Are they tired?
- Are they fearful or frustrated at an inability to do simple tasks?
You can find more information on the causes of aggression in a person with dementia here
An individual can be totally unaware that they have a tendency to wander. If the person in a secure environment then wondering is not usually a problem, in fact, having an area that a person can wander freely around in is an ideal situation. Wandering can become a problem though if the person is not in a secure environment or they are living in a care home environment and may have a tendency to disturb other residents or they are wandering insecurely during the night. Below are a few reasons why a person may wander.
- Is the person having difficulty sitting down. Do they have medical reason such as constipation that makes it uncomfortable for the person to sit down?
- Are they looking for the toilet or food?
- Are they bored or frustrated with something?
- Are they looking for something personal to them?
- Are they restless. Do they need some exercise?
You can find out more information on helping to stop a person from wandering here
It is often the short-term memory of a person that seems to be affected the most with dementia which can be very frustrating for the carer and for the sufferer. Memory loss can also affect the way the person carries out their basic day-to-day routines. The sufferer may forget basic things like when and how to wash and dress or forget to shave or eat food on a regular basis.
There are a lot of products to help a person who suffers from loss of memory such as big button photo telephones and mobiles, speaking clocks to help a person remind them of the time and a host of other helpful products that can help a person who suffers from memory problems
Toilet Difficulties and Incontinence
If a person has incontinence problems you should as the carer, always provide dignity, privacy and reassurance for the person at all times. The person may feel ashamed of their incontinence and try to hide the problem. You should as the carer, try to spot the signs and symptoms a person may show when they are having toilet difficulties. This will allow you to react in a dignified and speedy manner to the situation.
If you need help with problems associated with dementia, there are many organisations that can help you. Please have a look at our Groups page for further help and advice
The Alzheimer’s society have produced a useful factsheet on the subject of why a person may wander around.