Dementia is a progressive, neurological condition with several psychiatric and behavioural symptoms often making it extremely difficult for family members and caregivers to care for such elders. There are several types of dementia, Alzheimer’s being the most common and classical form of it. At the onset of dementia, symptoms such as forgetfulness, confusion, repetition or changes in mood may mimic age-related changes or other clinical conditions such as delirium or depression making an early diagnosis difficult. During this period, it is important not to lose patience or question their symptoms- instead, observe and see if clinical intervention is required.
Coping Strategies For Individuals With Alzheimer’s:
Dr Pooja Sonawane, who is an MBBS DPM at Apollo Clinic, Nigdi said, “People with Alzheimer’s disease use a range of maladaptive coping ways to gain a sense of control like denial, downplaying the situation, avoiding social activities also with humour, which is emotionally draining. Cognitive rehabilitation can help them practice daily activities with structured exercises, images, gestures or in writing like maintaining a diary or calendar with personal notes, signs on doors and cupboards.”
“Movement programs like fitness training games and sports aim at recovery on a bio-psycho-social level by stimulating self-expression and self-esteem. Reminiscence activities like one-on-one group conversations can provide with emotional support and improve social behaviour. A holistic approach which involves treatment and effective coping strategies can help improve the quality of life of such patients,” she added.
How Can Family Members Help One To Cope With Alzheimer’s?
Dr Manoj Khanal, who is the Associate Director of Neurology at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh laid down tips on how can family members help one cope with Alzheimer’s
- Keep a routine of day-to-day activities like teeth brushing; eating; bathing; and sleeping same time of the day every day.
- Help the patient write down the to-do lists; and appointments in the notebook or calendar
- Plan activities that a person enjoys and do it at the same time of day
- Set up reminders for patients to take medications regularly
- Try bathing and dressing as far as possible by the person
- Give easy-to-use uncomplicated clothing like elastic waistbands and zipper pulls
- Use sturdy shower chairs to prevent falls in case of unsteady gait
- Be gentle and respectful and don’t abuse. Treat like a child while bathing or getting dressed
- Serve meals in a consistent manner in the same place and give Person enough time to eat. Try liquids; semisolid; small and frequently easily digestible meals
- Encourage two-way communication with calmness
- Try communicating with albums or photos if not words
- Take a walk together every day
- Music and dance as far as possible to rebuild relationships
- Ensure proper lighting; remove any harmful objects; slippery floors. Make the room as simple as possible. Keep beds; chairs and tables same place daily; don’t keep it haphazard.
- Apply handrails to chairs and beds
How To Give Emotional Support To Senior Patients Suffering From Alzheimer’s
In this regard, Neha Sinha, who is the CEO and co-founder, of Epoch Elder Care, ASLI Board Member, Clinical psychologist & dementia specialist said, “As the stage progresses, people with dementia lose their sense of identity slowly, may have difficulty in expressing themselves and will struggle to do their activities of daily living. It is important to realign our own expectations and understand that their condition is not something they have control over. Don’t expect them to remember, communicate more via nonverbal cues, understand what their triggers for agitation, and help them feel supported by agreeing to whatever they say.”
Nurturing Brain Health: Essential Practices
Dr. Gorav Gupta, who is the Co-Founder of Emoneeds said, “To nurture cognitive vitality and promote brain well-being, it’s essential to engage in intellectually stimulating pursuits such as reading and puzzles, fostering the brain’s adaptability. Equally crucial is prioritizing a balanced diet that includes foods rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential vitamins like fish, nuts, leafy greens, berries, and whole grains. Simultaneously, being mindful of alcohol intake and limiting processed foods helps shield the brain from potential harm.”
“Consistently engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week enhances cerebral blood flow and encourages neural growth. Additionally, embracing 7-9 hours of revitalizing sleep nightly supports memory consolidation and detoxification. Also, skillfully managing stress through practices like meditation and yoga acts as a protective barrier, reducing cortisol levels and fortifying the brain against prolonged harm,” he added.
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