Dementia is a generalized medical term encompassing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases. It is associated with loss of memory, language, and problem-solving skills. Dementia usually progresses slowly, over a four to eight-year period.
A dementia diagnosis can be confusing and overwhelming for the patient and equally difficult for family and friends. If your partner has received a diagnosis of dementia, here are some steps you can take to support them, and yourself, through this difficult time:
Talk to their consultant
As a spouse or partner, you’ll want to understand the specific type of dementia diagnosis given. This will affect the disease’s progression rate, symptom management, and prognosis. Although dementia cannot be cured, understanding its specific effects will help you to identify symptoms and manage them effectively.
Talk to your partner’s physician, don’t be afraid to ask questions, voice concerns, and take notes of important points. This will make the professional advice easier to refer to and to discuss with other family members or support systems.
A specialized counselor/therapist may be able to help you address some of the more personal and psychological difficulties of your partner’s diagnosis. It can help you to mentally step back from the immediate distress and consider your options practically.
You can also attend group support if this suits you better, which will help you to feel connected to others experiencing the same hardship.
Consider your living arrangements
There are many solutions to making your home life more dementia-friendly. The solution is personal so consider the options below:
Adapt your home
Increase the amount of natural light in the home, for instance by removing blinds or window coverings, as it will increase visibility. Fixing any uneasy flooring to avoid trip hazards and using contrasting colors to help your partner differentiate are helpful if your partner wants to remain as independent as possible.
You can also fix doors in the home to remain open (or remove them), where safe to do so, as closed doors can be very confusing for people with dementia. Lining the outside of light switches with a colored tape or paint will ensure they don’t blend into the wall and can easily be located.
Adding a picture or written labels to cupboards, wardrobes, and bathroom doors will help your partner to identify what is behind each door and guide their attention to it.
Move into a senior retirement community
Relocating to a retirement community such as Bella Terra senior living ensures that you never feel alone when supporting your partner through dementia. They are an esteemed member of the Senior Lifestyle Network and provide high quality senior living and personalized care plans.
The community, based in Jackson, New Jersey, offers full medication management, staff nurses, 24/7 emergency response care, and wellness checks. Bella Terra also benefits from luxurious common areas, a salon, housekeeping services, a full monthly calendar of activities, a worship area, and chef-inspired cuisine!
Choosing a senior living community can provide many benefits to you and your partner, allowing you to both remain independent and safe.
Dementia can be a distressing and overwhelming diagnosis, whether as a patient or a loved one. However, taking the steps that are right for you and your family will help you to understand the disease and gain some control over how you deal with it.