Navigating a Dementia Diagnosis and What That Means for the Future
Navigating a dementia diagnosis can be tough. There are so many questions, naturally. What does this mean for the future? How fast will things progress? Will there be complications? Memory is a tricky thing with strong emotional ties that people don’t want to let go of, but dementia goes beyond just problems with remembering things. It affects many parts of the brain and physical capacity as well. In order to prepare for the future, you have to be armed with facts.
There are, in fact, an estimated 60 million citizens living with some form of memory impairment condition, whether that is Alzheimer’s, dementia, or something else. These diseases typically affect senior citizens, but they can sometimes take hold in the younger years too. There is even a suggestion that someone as young as 19 is exhibiting symptoms, though this is extremely rare. Take note that once a diagnosis is confirmed, the patient could respond in a variety of ways. It is an emotive thing, that requires care and attention from any loved one willing to step up.
The Key Developments of Dementia Symptoms
As time progresses, dementia symptoms get worse. This condition is degenerative. There is no cure, only management strategies, so it is good to be in tune with what’s happening and how to handle certain symptoms as they progress. Navigating a care plan for the future means understanding what is happening in the present and how that is going to shape what comes next. Things can deteriorate rapidly, or they can take several years to advance. It is entirely a case-by-case thing and there is no real way to say which way it will go for you (or your loved one). So, being prepared is the only thing you’re in control of, which is why it’s great to lean into the research and see where it takes you.
Forgetfulness and Disorientation
The main associated symptom of dementia is forgetting things. This translates into lots of different things. The most obvious is that anyone with a dementia diagnosis may forget general information, memories, names, places, actions, and so on. Further to this, though, is a gradual decline in the ability to perform basic tasks like self-care, eating, and even motor functions too.
It can affect the ability to speak and hold a conversation. Words can disappear from the mind and forming complete phrases or sentences might become too difficult.
Dementia patients often forget how to get dressed, brush their teeth or perform basic hygiene tasks.
There are also mobility issues that occur in the later stages particularly. For instance, people with a dementia diagnosis are prone to poor posture and a decline in physical ability paired with the natural decline brought around by old age.
There will also be problems with eating along the way. Eating disturbances occur for many reasons and tend to get worse rather than resolve. Input is often needed to ensure no medical harm comes to the dementia patient as a result of malnutrition or dehydration.
Forgetting How to Eat
Dementia can make you forget how to actually eat, chew and swallow. This is made worse by a divided concentration span.
When dementia gets stronger, the bits of the brain that are in charge of telling us how to swallow can fall out of action. This leads to dysphagia and can be painful, off-putting, and hard to contend with.
Memory Care Establishments: Why They Are Worth the Exploration
When thinking about how to look after dementia patients the best, it is good to ask exactly what is memory care and how it is put into action. While at home care is normally a preference for people, there are extremely reliable establishments that provide in-house, constant supervision of dementia patients who need it.
Typically in the later stages of dementia, these patients are looked after night and day by professional clinicians and carers who can spot the signs of deterioration and understand how best to implement effective treatment paths. Memory care needs nurture. In the later stages, it is extremely difficult to manage without external carer input and professional help.
A Higher, Consistent Level of Care Input
People suffering from dementia will of course receive a higher and consistent level of care input from the professionals in the establishment. This is not to discredit the commendable caring duties that any loved one may have carried out to this point, but just like other medical conditions, once dementia progresses it is hard to manage without the edge of expert insight.
This can be in the form of holistic approaches to nutritional schedules. Eating is often a problem for memory patients, because they may either begin to have negative associations with meal times owing to pain or difficulty with the physical demands, or they cannot retain enough concentration or focus to get the right nutrients. This can lead to malnutrition and needs a professional eye to ensure nothing slides downhill in this area.
Dementia patients are prone to wandering into unsafe situations because their perception of what is safe and what is not safe goes out of kilter as the condition progresses. They are more vulnerable to accidental injury because of this out of sync awareness with their surroundings, and alongside other symptoms of the condition, this is why being close by to medical intervention is extremely beneficial. It won’t delay essential care if the time comes when this is needed.
Safety and Security
Alongside the risk of accidental injury, there are also distressing episodes of disorientation to manage too. These can make a patient extremely vulnerable, and it is always better to have a safe environment for these to happen as opposed to the alternative. Staff members will recognize what is about to happen and act responsively while infusing nurture into their actions.
Dementia is a degenerative condition that requires a high level of input in the middle and later stages. Memory care establishments are therefore ideal because highly qualified and trained staff members are always close by to assist, support and look for warning signs that things are progressing.
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