Living in the same home as a loved one or family member suffering from dementia can be very difficult. Not only do we have to constantly be around someone who may be completely different from the person we previously knew, we have to learn coping mechanisms to deal with the limitations and frustrations dementia brings with it. While mild cases of dementia may involve some simple incidents of forgetfulness or needing help to dress, other moderate to severe levels may force us to deal with personality changes and mood swings that sometimes make the environment unsafe or charged with stress.
As the dementia sufferer's behavior changes, we too must change our own behavior. We can't continue to treat someone with dementia symptoms the same way as we did before, especially if their condition shows a marked decline in cognitive ability. Finding ways to deal with someone who forgets constantly, who doesn't recognize us and who may try to run away or gets disoriented frequently is a challenge, but there are many tips and tricks to deal with living with dementia, even if it isn't our own.
The most important thing to keep in mind when thinking of someone with dementia is that their condition and behavior isn't their fault. Dementia sufferers didn't ask to have their memory removed, and they surely never wanted someone to have to help them eat or dress. They're frustrated within their new limitations, the same as we are, and putting yourself in their shoes often is a good way to maintain perspective. While their struggles may be difficult for you, they are doubly irritating for the sufferer.
Important Tips for Daily Living
The best way to deal with someone suffering from dementia is calmly and rationally. Becoming snappy or shouting at them isn't going to help and the situation will probably get worse because of the noise and tension. Should you need to react to something a dementia sufferer has said or done, do so quietly and pleasantly as much as possible. Try not to be insistent for things that don't matter. For example, should a dementia sufferer forget your name and call you John, even though you're David, let it go and accept John for the moment.
Move the same way you speak, quietly and calmly. Abrupt, sudden actions or movements can startle dementia sufferers, and dementia sufferers may feel the need to protect themselves, which can result in a moment of aggression. Sharp, loud noises can also startle and lead to confusion about what's going on, so don't bang doors or yell. Providing calm, quiet environment at all times is one of the best approaches with dementia sufferers.