Dementia is a medical term for a set of symptoms, which include memory loss, personality changes, judgement, language use, perception and sometimes motor co-ordination. Although dementia is more common in old age, the significant losses of dementia are a normal part of aging. Some dementias are curable, some treatable, and some are not. One of the most common forms of irreversible dementia is Alzheimer's Disease, but there are many other disorders and diseases which affect brain functioning.
Memory plays an important role in helping people to feel secure. People who have dementia have none of the safety that comes with having routines, knowing friends and family, and making sense of the happenings of everyday life. These people need our help with basic comforts, affection, security and support.
Symptoms vary from person to person, In the early stages of dementia, people may look and act normal, but have the sense that something is wrong. The need for supervision and assistance increases as the disorder progresses. When people with dementia hear and see things that do not exist, their fears may be calmed by gentle reassurance.
The elderly with dementia require gentle, patient care to enable them to maintain dignity and comfort. Safety hazards are a constant concern, and close attention must be paid to nutrition and hydration. Those with dementia require a consistent routine within a supportive and well organized environment.
One of the major problems in dementia is communication. Sometimes communication must be done at the most basic level, with simple words and gestures. Small acts of kindness and caring may bring a little sunshine to the gradually darkening world of dementia.
When someone appears normal, but acts erratically, it is easy to feel annoyed with them. But remember that there is a difference between anger at the individual, and anger at the symptoms of illness. It is important to keep your sense of humor, and not take things personally.