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When a Loved One has Dementia: Coping Skills

Monday, October 2nd 2023 10:00am 4 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

Dementia presents numerous difficulties, both for individuals grappling with it and for those in close proximity to them. Observing and dealing with common behaviors arising from conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or frontotemporal dementia can be challenging.

Providing care for a person with dementia can sometimes be frustrating, perplexing, or distressing. Gaining an understanding of the reasons behind these behaviors and learning effective approaches to handle various situations can help ease the journey ahead.

Which behaviors are frequently observed in individuals with dementia?

People with dementia often exhibit a combination of peculiar behaviors, including:

  • Making peculiar statements or using incorrect words for certain objects.
  • Failing to recognize the need for personal hygiene or forgetting how to maintain cleanliness.
  • Repeating themselves or asking the same question repeatedly.
  • Misplacing objects or taking items belonging to others.
  • Not recognizing familiar individuals or remembering their own identity.
  • Holding onto the belief that a deceased loved one is still alive.
  • Accumulating objects, such as mail or even trash.
  • Demonstrating paranoid behavior.
  • Becoming easily confused or agitated.
  • Leaving the house without informing others and getting lost.

Why do these behaviors occur?

Imagine a wildfire changing course within the brain of your loved one with dementia, damaging or destroying brain cells (neurons) and neural networks that regulate behavior.

The underlying causes of dementia determine the factors driving this damage. For instance, while the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease remains unknown, it is strongly associated with proteins that accumulate and impair brain cells. Vascular dementia occurs when certain brain regions experience recurring insufficient blood flow, leading to the death of neurons.

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Identify & address the underlying causes of chronic health conditions