When older people begin to suffer from dementia, their dignity can become at risk. Incontinence of both types can become an issue, and sufferers can become fearful, anxious and even combative and violent. Residential nursing homes can look wonderful: like year-round gentle holiday camps at which your elderly relative enjoys excursions and shopping trips, guest speakers and book clubs, regular visits to hairdressers and meals out. This is seldom the case for dementia sufferers, however.
The Sad Truth
Often, dementia patients require absolute stability, which means that trips away from the home are stressful, the patients can require two full-time assistants with them if they do leave the home for any reason, and all too often, the patient cannot enjoy excursions and day trips in the way they once did. Keeping dementia patients in a domestic setting will eventually become too much of a strain as the cognitive decline worsens, leaving the older person needing more hands-on care, much close monitoring to prevent them wandering, and frustrations at living with this apparent ‘stranger’ deepens. At this point – and preferably just before, a good dementia care home should be sourced.
The Good News
However, there are some activities that should be encouraged. Often, it can seem like a reversion to childhood: dementia sufferers may push a ball between one another, sometimes they are given dolls to interact with, and learning activities disguised as fun, such as painting, drawing and making things, make a comeback. These activities can stimulate the brain, staving off the effects of dementia a little longer, and giving the patients something to look forward to each day.
So What Does Good Dementia Care Look Like?
Your dementia suffering relative is almost certainly in a decline from the moment of their diagnosis. There can be plateaus during which time your relative will seem to settle, but there will also be periods when their cognitive skills begin to sharply decline. Appreciate the good moments, and accept that the bad moments will come: it is neither the fault of yourself nor the care home. Disruptions to the patient’s routine can cause upsets that do look like spells of decline, and often this causes tremendous guilt in children who have finally had to place their much-loved dementia sufferer in a residential home. Speak to the nurses and administrators of the care home: they will be able to reassure you on this point. Hopefully, once your relative has settled down, they should brighten up once again.
A good dementia care home will be well-staffed and always ready to discuss your relative with you, assuming you have the right authority to discuss their health.
Keeping a dementia patient clean, dry and comfortable can be a full-time job, especially when they suffer from incontinence. Good dementia care homes ensure that no patient is left sitting in their own mess, and assistance is always available should an accident occur. Dementia patients can refuse to bathe, but residential care home staff are often skilled at administering bed-baths without compromising the patient’s dignity.
As people age their appetite dwindles and catering for themselves becomes a problem. This can mean that they stop eating properly: which can dramatically worsen the effects of dementia, and even mimic the symptoms of dementia in someone who does not actually have the disease at all. Good dementia care homes ensure that patients are well-hydrated and well-nourished, providing a wide range of soft foods that are high in nutrients and easy on old stomachs. There have been some cases of fairly serious dementia patients who have made a full recovery and enjoyed another five or ten happy and productive years once they were provided with regular meals. Good dementia care homes cannot cause remission in all patients, but they will provide tempting and tasty meals that are easily managed and packed full of the necessary nutrients for good health.
Enough of the Right Kind of Stimulation
Finally, ensuring that declining minds are kept busy can seem futile, but keeping our brains active is vital for all of us, and especially so for dementia patients. Crossword and jigsaw puzzles, building blocks, and arts and crafts, all of these are interesting and fun, and help to keep mental faculties sharp for a little while longer.
If you are looking for a home for your elderly dementia sufferer, why not check out dementia care homes Somerset here and find out just how good a good dementia care home can be?