Posted on 23 May 2017
Taking care of someone with dementia can be difficult and tricky. I had talk in my company earlier, figured I can share what I've learnt to you as this can happen to anyone including your loved ones.
It is a condition that causes progressive intellectual decline leading to increasing difficulties in coping with everyday activities.
Dementia can rob sufferers of their memory and thinking skills, and even alter their personalities. They may misplace personal belongings, forget their way home or misidentify children and spouses in the advanced stages of the disease.
Behind the facade of dementia, however, the "old self" remains. Dementia does not change the desire for a normal and dignified life.
The morning coffee at the coffee shop remains a cherished ritual, even if they struggle to find their way home afterwards.
They continue visiting the supermarket, and sometimes over-buy groceries without realising, only because deep down, they still see themselves as providers for the families.
They may lose their temper, not because they want to, but because they too are struggling with what is happening to them.
Keeping them behind locked doors at home or in nursing homes may be the convenient option, but it would devastate them, the way it would devastate any of us.
Doing your part
Noticed someone who is looking lost and confused?
The elderly or patient has been lost for a few minutes, to hours or even days - invite him/her to take a seat first as it calms them down.
Interact with them with clear, simple verses, acknowledge their concerns while being respectful and reassuring. You can engage a conversation with them to provide comfort and build trust.
Check if they have their personal identifications with them so you are able to alert the relevant authorities. If they do have their identifications with them, you may bring them back to their families. Alternatively, you may contact their next-of-kin.
If they do not have their identification with them, alert the police.
Tip: Do not mention the word 'police' or 'police station' as people will tend to avoid anything that is related to police as it is considered as if they have done something wrong. You may advise them by saying that you will be calling for help.
There are cases where elderlies who are lost and been missing for days but found dead after that. If everyone plays their part by identifying such cases, giving them the help they need, such cases can be reduced.