An estimated nine million Americans live with some form of dementia, including many aged 65-and-over. Watching an aging family member battle dementia can be emotional and even heartbreaking. As their cognitive decline continues behaviors like forgetfulness, confusion and wandering off are common. As a family caregiver, ensuring that your loved one maintains their quality-of-life starts with learning more about the behaviors involved with dementia and how you can help. Using these caregiving tips should make the process a more rewarding one.
What is Dementia?
Dementia describes a group of symptoms that affect memory, social skills and cognitive abilities in ways that interfere with a person’s daily activities. Dementia isn’t one specific disease, but it can be caused by several different diseases.
For example, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of progressive dementia in older adults. And even though memory loss is typically caused by dementia, memory loss itself can have different causes.
Common Dementia Behaviors
Although they vary by individual, seniors with dementia exhibit one or more of these behaviors:
- Memory loss
- Trouble communicating or finding the right words
- Getting lost frequently in familiar places
- Difficulty reasoning, problem-solving or handling complex tasks
- Acting confused and disoriented
- Trouble planning and organizing
- Motor function and coordination difficulties
- Inappropriate behavior
- Personality changes
Wandering is another behavior that dementia can cause. Those who wander off usually do so because they are hungry, in pain, hallucinating, confused or simply need to use the bathroom.
Caring for a Senior with Dementia
Here’s how you can help your loved one with dementia enjoy a happier, healthier, more productive life:
Encourage them to exercise
Getting plenty of exercise is beneficial for one’s mind and body at any age, and especially for an older adult with dementia. Staying fit by doing low-impact workouts like walking, swimming, Yoga, Pilates or water aerobics will help