By now you should be well informed and educated about dementia!
You should know the following as I have covered them all in my weekly articles! You should know what to do and what not to do. You should know what is normal aging and what is not normal aging. You should know that Alzheimer’s disease is the number one condition of dementia.
You should know that Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. You should know that dementia is an umbrella term and under this umbrella there are 85-90 different conditions of dementia. You should know by now that dementia not only affects the elderly, but younger ages as well.
You should know that just because a person becomes elderly they do not automatically get dementia. You should know by now that a person living with Alzheimer’s disease are doing the best they can do. Their brain if failing their brain is dying! You should know by now by the end of Alzheimer’s disease only one-third of the brain tissue still functions. You should know that the person living with dementia cannot change, but you with the good brain can change. You should know by now that three deep breaths are vital to your health and well being as a caregiver.
You should know that when a person lives with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease the entire family lives with it. You should know by now that dementia has some similarities, but it is a different experience for each individual. You should know by now as a caregiver to be prepared, because it will not get any better as the disease progresses. You should know by now to build a network of support, the time will come when you will need that support. You should know by now that Alzheimer’s disease attacks the brain asymmetrically, generally attacking the left side of the brain first then spreading.
You should know by now that the left side of your brain is where your vocabulary is stored, that is why they search for words at times. You should know by now that the right side of your brain is where automatic speech, singing, forbidden words and swear words are stored. That is why the person living with dementia can remember the words to a song or poem. You should know by now to focus on what the person living with dementia can still do and not focus on what they can no longer do.
You should know by now that the human brain takes in data five ways; what you see, what you hear, what you feel, what you smell and what you taste. You should know by now that the person living with dementia is going to pay attention to what they see rather than what they hear. You should know by now that you show the person what you are going to do first, then and only then do you have permission to touch them. You as caregivers should know by now that taking time out for yourself is imperative, respite should be a significant part of the caregiver’s life.
You should know by now that laughter is good medicine, Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” See a funny movie or a funny show, “I Love Lucy”, “The Andy Griffin Show” or “Sanford and Son.” Just laugh! You should know by now that everything will not go according to your plan, but it is important to have a plan. Does the person living with dementia need to know your agenda? No, you should know your agenda, but not show your agenda. Remember they are paying more attention to what you do not what you say!
I wanted to review with you, during the course of this article I will review. I want you to get it, to understand it, I want you to be well informed. Knowledge is power! With over 160,000 older adults in North Carolina living with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia we need to be prepared. You never know when this dreaded disease will knock on your door. Or maybe I should say bust down your door!
Until there is a cure, there is care. Come join me on the second Tuesday of each month at 2 p.m. here at the Sampson County Department of Aging for our Dementia Education/Alzheimer’s Support Group meeting. Keep in touch for future workshops! I would not want you to miss them! Keep reading and stay informed! Hope you have a “Best Day Ever.”
Lesia Henderson is the aging care specialist for the Sampson County Department of Aging.