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Posted December 31, 2014 in Advice Column, Clear Lake


            Dementia is the gradual deterioration of mental functioning that effects memory, mood, thinking, concentration, and judgment. These changes often affect a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities. The earliest signs of dementia include memory problems, confusion, and changes in the way a person behaves and communicates.

            Dementia is an illness that usually occurs slowly over time, and usually includes a progressive state of deterioration. Cognitive symptoms of dementia can include poor problem solving, difficulty learning new skills, and impaired decision making. Behavior changes can include fear, insecurity, anger, and often, depression like symptoms.

Making the decision to put a loved one in a memory care community can be heart-wrenching. Capturing the essence of what memory care offers Alzheimer’s disease and dementia sufferers is what’s important.  Memory care offers more than assisted living, it offers seniors an improved quality of life.  Memory care as a specialized treatment option for seniors is more expensive than traditional assisted living as it offers specific services and features, catered to those who suffer from dementia. 

Memory care treatment programs often feature:

  • A secure environment to reduce elopement, while allowing healthy wandering
  • A low staff-to-resident ratio
  • Sensory-based programming
  • Color-coded hallways and design features to facilitate easy navigation and reduce anxiety
  • The ability to accommodate residents in the early, middle and late stages of the disease

            Experiment with ways to interact with the loved one impacted by the disease to see what brings them out. Sometimes simply rubbing their arm or holding hands, or even complimenting how nice they look, can make a positive impact.  Be patient and take your time to enjoy the moments.  Remember to smile, smiling makes a dementia sufferer feel safe and secure. Get their attention before speaking, if you go on a long winded explanation they are going to say no, don’t talk too much, try taking their hand and leading the way.  Please try and understand and remember it is their short term memory, their right now memory, that is gone.   

            There’s no clear-cut line between normal changes and warning signs. It’s always a good idea to check with a doctor if a person’s level of function seems to be changing. It is critical for people diagnosed with dementia and their families to receive information, care and support as early as possible.

Information provided by Kimberly Boyd, manager, Country Meadow Place, 17396 Kingbird ave., Mason City, 641-423-7722.

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