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HEALTHY LIVING: Tips to help families deal with dementia

The Bristol Press


Dementia is not a single disease - it is a classification of various symptoms and diseases.

While Alzheimer's disease is the most common - it progresses slowly and gradually destroys memory, reason, judgment, language, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest of tasks - there are many other not so well known forms of dementia. They include:

Vascular dementia happens when part of the brain doesn't get enough blood carrying the oxygen and nutrients it needs

Acquired brain injury happens when there is some type of injury or lack of oxygen to the brain

Fronto-temporal dementia affects planning and judgment; emotions, speaking and understanding speech; and certain types of movement

Dementia with Lewy Body leads to a decline in thinking, reasoning and motor skills.

Dealing with friends or family members with dementia can be challenging. Here are some tips:

Simplify everything; success becomes more achievable

Slow down your speech and actions to match theirs

Stay on one subject at a time; maintain eye contact

Satisfy the immediate emotional need; provide reassurance, recognition of this need

Avoid use of logic and reason; it is hard for the brain to process

Avoid explaining why something must be done; just state the task

Focus on an alternative activity to distract from an undesired one

Point out positive behaviors and avoid criticizing negative ones

Mood is contagious; exhibit the mood you want them to be in

Mirroring a behavior jump starts the mind's memory for doing it

Inform rather than reorient; avoid quizzing

Give choices as often as possible; limit them to 2. It empowers.

Dementia specialists are available at all Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging locations: Bloomfield, Hartford, New Britain, Meriden, Newington, Southington, Vernon and Willimantic. Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging, a not-for-profit member of Hartford HealthCare Senior Services, is a resource and assessment center designed to enhance access to services and information related to attaining optimal quality of life for seniors and their caregivers. For more information, call Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging, 1.877.424.4641 or visit .

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