A dementia diagnosis can be devastating -- not only for the person with the disease, but for those who love him, too. “There’s a grieving that occurs. You haven’t lost your loved one, but the person you know is going to change,” says Rosanne M. Leipzig, MD, professor of geriatric medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
If you or someone close to you has Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, here are six steps to help you deal with the disease now and in the future.
People with the disease may act anxious or get upset easily. When they're feeling this way, they may fidget, shout, throw things, or try to hit other people. To keep your loved one calm:
Keep their surroundings quiet. Background noise, like sounds from the TV, can upset or confuse him.
Settle into a routine. Changes in his environment or his daily routine, such as travel or visits from guests, can make him agitated.
Check for things that are physically bothering him. Pain, fatigue, or needing to use the restroom could make him unsettled or trigger an outburst.
Stay calm. If he gets upset or angry, don’t argue with him or criticize. Try to keep your voice calm and your emotions steady.
Bladder and Bowel Problems
People with Alzheimer's tend to have trouble controlling their bladder and bowels. That's especially true as the disease gets worse. To prevent and manage accidents:
Take your loved one to the restroom every few hours.
Be aware of signs he needs to go, including fidgeting and clutching clothing.
When you're away from home, know where the restrooms are.
Encourage him to drink less fluid close to bedtime.
It’s common for someone with Alzheimer’s to feel depressed, especially soon after he learns he has the disease. Antidepressant drugs may help. Other things also can make him less likely to get depressed, such as: