Dementia brings with it a number of sobering symptoms and effects, and one of the most difficult of all is confusion. As dementia progresses, the individual may have a difficult time remembering familiar people, places, and things. He or she may even begin forgetting their own home, or their closest loved ones. This is a challenging thing for caregivers to wrestle with, and it requires empathy and patience aplenty.
What can be expected in the way of confusion, though? In early stages of dementia, confusion is usually fairly mild. It becomes more severe as the disease advances. The confusion can manifest in the simple forgetting of familiar people and places, but it might also cause the individual to forget the purpose of everyday items—how to use a hair brush, for example, or how to floss the teeth. Such confusion is sometimes referred to as senility, but this is misleading, as it implies that confusion is a normal part of aging. It isn’t: It’s symptomatic of mental disease.
If your loved one shows signs of confusion, it can be understandably vexing—but here are some ways to cope:
- Stay calm; don’t make it obvious that you are hurt or frustrated, if you can at all help it.
- Provide your loved one with a brief and simple clarification. Longer explanations may cause further confusion.
- Try using photos and personal mementos to explain things, or to jog the memory.
- Phrase your corrections as suggestions, not scoldings. Say something like, “Oh, isn’t that your niece, Rachel?” or “I think that’s a hair brush, isn’t it?”
- Avoid taking it personally. Remember that your loved one has a disease, and that’s what causes the confusion.
Caregivers may also find themselves needing a respite—and if that’s the case, we encourage you to contact us about our adult day care offerings, where we have experience providing daily interaction and protection to seniors and to those with dementia.
Contact us today to learn more about adult day care.