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From Daily Rx:

It is not a situation hoped for, but one many people will have to tackle. As loved ones age and mental capacities fade, how do you handle proper care and ensure a high quality of life?

Luckily, as numbers grow and research proliferates, our knowledge and understanding of dementia increases as well. Information about how to provide a happy, rewarding and loving life for these patients is now widely available.

A Condition on the Rise
In a report titled “Dementia: a public health priority” released by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in April 2012, it estimated that 35.6 million people have dementia worldwide, a number expected to double by 2030 and triple by 2050.

This growth represents a huge potential burden on both medical systems and the families of patients, because patients often live for many years after onset begins. In the report, ADI and WHO urge the participation of these key publics in the development of laws, policies and services that will surely grow relating to dementia.

The report encourages active participation and self-education, saying “With appropriate support, many can and should be enabled to continue to engage and contribute within society and have a good quality of life.” By building a base of respect and love, these patients are able to thrive and enjoy their remaining years.

Emotional Health: Creating an Environment of Respect
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, one of the first and most important steps in caring for a loved one with dementia is understanding their world and ensuring an environment of respect. This time of mental decline can leave a patient feeling vulnerable and lost, but proper support can help maintain their individuality, happiness and self-esteem.

Steps to go about this include:

  • Make the patient feel valued (both as they are in their current situation and for past accomplishments). Making an effort to listen and spend time with the patient can encourage these feelings. 
  • Be courteous and take care not to talk down to the patient. It is not uncommon for people to talk about dementia patients as if they were not there. This practice can bruise already damaged self-confidence. 
  • Respect their privacy. Be sensitive when help is required in intimate situations, and maintain normal practices like knocking before entering the patient’s room.
  • Support high self-esteem. Take note of and applaud the patient’s interests, skills and individuality. 
  • Encourage emotional release. Though memories may fade, feelings remain and it is important the patient is allowed to express emotions. Offer support and don’t belittle concerns, even if they seem small. 
  • Create the power to choose. By offering simple choices, the patient can still be an active participant in decisions. Try to discuss issues concerning them and as often as possible, allow the patient to choose. 
  • Maintain respect by assisting the patient in tasks, rather than just completing everything for them. Encourage up-keep in appearance and compliment their looks. Do not correct every mistake made, and allow them to complete tasks in their own manner. 
It is also important to remember that every dementia patient is a unique individual. People react to this disease in different ways, so take time to recognize and respect your loved one’s distinct personality, needs and emotions.

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