In the early stages of dementia, while a patient is still aware of their diagnosis and their poor memory, they may feel vulnerable and require a lot of reassurance. You can help by allowing them to express their worries and talk through them.

Expressing identity

It’s important for people with dementia to feel that their individual identity is not being consumed by their illness, and that they still have a sense of self-worth. Carers can help by allowing them to make their own choices when those choices won’t cause harm to themselves or others. This includes allowing them to dress and wash themselves as long as it’s safe for them to do so, and avoiding making them feel helpless or infantile.

Often people with dementia will find that their taste in foods changes enormously; as a carer, it’s important to take their tastes into account and serve them food that they enjoy eating and which keeps them relatively fit and healthy.

Difficult behaviour

As dementia progresses, a person’s behaviour could become erratic and unusual. It is sometimes possible to reduce the frequency of out-of-character behaviour by ensuring the patient is calm, keeping familiar personal items around them and ensuring that their sleeping environment is comfortable.

Remember that your loved one is not deliberately being difficult, and try not to take it personally – their sense of reality may be very different to yours, and they are just doing what seems right and normal to them.

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