Our Education & Outreach Manager, Amy Abrams, MSW/MPH, recently spoke about the 5 things you need to know if there’s someone with dementia in your life at the 2018 CaregiverSD Expo. You can watch her presentation below.

1) Getting a diagnosis matters

“Dementia” is not a specific disease or diagnosis, and there are many different medical conditions that can cause symptoms, some of which are treatable. Early detection provides more treatment and planning options. Accurate diagnosis means more accurate care planning.

2) Changes in communication & relationships are hard

People living with dementia can’t control the changes that are happening to their memory, thinking, or behavior. But we can control how we react to those changes. Reminding, correcting, and arguing rarely helps. Kindness is usually more important than complete honesty.

3) A Positive Approach™ to Care can help

Changes to the visual field and sensory abilities are common symptoms of dementia. Making visual and verbal contact before approaching someone who is living with dementia may reduce their discomfort, fear, and agitation. Using simple, clear language and a friendly tone can help.

4) It’s never too late to engage in brain-healthy activities

Brain-healthy foods include vegetables, fruit, and “good” fats from foods like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and fish. Regular exercise increases blood flow to the brain, improves cognitive function, reduces symptoms of anxiety and agitation, and improves sleep. Staying cognitively and socially engaged is essential to quality of life.

5) You can’t do this alone

Educating yourself and others about the disease alleviates fear and improves skills. Support groups provide a safe and compassionate atmosphere for coping with daily challenges, sharing resources, and learning from others. A wide range of resources are available to support you on the journey.