Dementia affects more than just memory. A person’s mood and emotional wellbeing can be affected. A person with dementia can experience sudden changes in mood and may be happy one moment, angry or even tearful, seemingly for no reason, the next. Random mood swings can pass quickly.
- A person with dementia can suffer from depression. You should talk to the person’s GP if you feel that your loved one is affected.
- A person with dementia may be in denial about their condition and may refuse to accept that anything is wrong. They may ‘cover up’ their mistakes and try to pretend that everything is normal. This is partly down to fear, but the person may also genuinely think that they are coping. My mum told a social worker during her assessment that she was doing all of her own washing and ironing, food shopping and doing her own housework and washing and dressing on her own. This just wasn’t true. I learned in time that she believed it to be true, when it clearly wasn’t. She would tell me she’d tended to the back garden the previous day when I knew she hadn’t.
- If you’re caring for a loved one, there will come a time when you won’t be able to manage the person’s condition and the demands of caring all on your own. The person will eventually require 24-hour care. Plan ahead and think about how their needs will be met. Consider what help and support you need and where that support will come from.
- A person can become confused when you take them out of their normal environment for a few days or change their routine. Having a consistent routine is a good thing for a person with dementia. Holidays or Christmas breaks can be stressful for all concerned, as the person can struggle to adapt to being in a new environment and having a new routine that is unfamiliar to them. If you plan to celebrate Christmas or Easter by bringing your loved one to your home, be aware that they may struggle to cope and may be better off in their own environment. My mum coped much better with Christmas when I visited her and took her out for Christmas lunch at her local (and familiar) pub instead of bringing her to me, which confused her and was a disaster for everyone.
- A person with dementia may struggle with balance coordination and may be prone to falls. As their condition progresses, they will lose their mobility.
- Monitoring the general health of the person is important, as it can help to prevent urinary infections and other health issues that, if left untreated, may result in a hospital stay. Take the person to their GP every six months and get their blood pressure checked (especially important if they have vascular dementia) and make sure they have regular health checks. The person’s medication should also be reviewed regularly. They may need different medication or a stronger dose of what they are currently taking.