Helping others…what you can do when someone you love has Dementia

Dementia is a general term that covers all types of issues that cause a decline in mental abilities. It includes Alzheimer’s disease and dementia secondary to a stroke. Many people think that it is a normal part of aging but research shows that it is less likely to occur in those who are active, eat right and have a healthy cardiovascular system. But for some, it is their life. Can anything be done?

Yes. You can ease the suffering of some people with dementia by visiting them and bringing things that help them remember the past. Dementia affects short-term memory first and worst. So helping a parent or grandparent remember family with photos is great. Bring large ones as vision fades with aging as well. But don’t overwhelm with 100’s of photos…a few will do. Sit with the person you are bringing them to and talk to them about them. Describe the people in terms of those they might remember, “this is Joe’s son, your grandson Joey” and label them clearly on the back. Both the conversation and the photos are important.

You may not like “old blue eye’s” and anyone from ‘the rat pack’, or even know who that is, but while you are visiting, listen to music that they would have listened to at your age. It helps with memory. It is relaxing for them, too. When you are not up for much conversation, you can watch old TV shows if the Internet is available. Sites such as Internet Archive can help. But conversation is important and it doesn’t matter if you have heard it all before. Even ask questions you know the answer to…and be patient while they tell you what you already know. It will help them connect with themselves.

It may help you connect with them again, too.