Adjunct Associate Professor Lim Si Ching, Senior Consultant from the Department of Geriatric Medicine; Li Fuyin, Advance Practice Nurse (Geriatric); and Seng Yuh Jen, Senior Medical Social Worker, all from Changi General Hospital (CGH), a member of the SingHealth group, explains how dementia robs a person's ability to lead a normal life, and shares simple do's and dont's for caregivers.

Dementia makes everyday living a challenge

Dementia is an umbrella of diseases that cause degenerative changes to the brain, resulting from loss of memory and the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL) such as dressing, grooming, eating, going to the toilet and bathing.

The condition can also affects one's ability to walk safely and independently, leading to frequent falls and injuries. Persons with dementia also experience behavioural changes, such as unwillingness to perform certain activities, like taking a shower.

As dementia progresses, the person's ability to perform ADL also deteriorates. Apart from forgetting routines, the patient may not understand instructions from the caregiver and will require more assistance. The patient may not even remember how to dress or make simple decisions like what to eat and may be overwhelmed by choices or tasks.

During the later stages of dementia, the patient may become incontinent and their eating patterns will be affected.

 

As a caregiver, how do I provide the best care for my loved one with dementia?​

Observe these simple do's and don'ts when caring for a dementia patient.

 Do

  • Ensure that planned activities are within the person's ability to carry out
  • Break the activity into small parts that are easily achievable
  • At each step, explain what needs to be done in simple language by using easy-to-understand instructions, giving the person enough time to understand and carry out the necessary tasks
  • Use gestures and prompts to orientate them if they seem stuck
  • Keep assisting when needed. Remain calm, pleasant and helpful
  • Thank the person or express appreciation when something is accomplished. Learn to enjoy doing the task, rather than judging the end result

Don't

  • Explain and argue why the activity needs to be done or what will happen if it is not completed
  • Give too many choices or ask confusing or unnecessary questions
  • Rush the patient
  • Point out mistakes or act resentful if the person is slow and clumsy and makes mistakes
  • Do the activity for the person. Instead, do the activity with the person
  • Make the person feel frustrated or tired

Ref: L20

See the next page to learn how to understand common dementia behaviours.

Want to know more about Dementia Care? Register now for the SingHealth Duke-NUS Memory and Cognitive Disorder Centre (SDDC) Scientific Meeting, happening on 18 September 2020

 

Also, check out our other articles on dementia:

Dementia in Singapore: Fast Facts

Dementia: What You Need to Know

Dementia and Depression: Is There a Link?

Young Onset Dementia (YOD): Dementia That Affects the Young

Brain Diseases: Early Signs to Look Out For