Understanding Dementia

Daughter Visiting Father In The Retirement Community

Dementia is an umbrella term for the general decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily activities.

Dementia impacts the aging process by deteriorating the brain and its functions to cause impairments in one or more functions. Normal aging does NOT include memory loss. Many people live long lives without cognitive changes or changes that affect their activities of daily living (ADL)
Dementia affects many parts of the brain, and each person is affected differently. Each part of the brain plays a critical piece of cognitive and functional ability. Changes can include:

• Memory
• Perception
• Language and speech
• Comprehension
• Sight
• Mobility

Noticing the Signs of Dementia in your Loved One

We’ve all walked into a room wondering why we went in there. Incidents like this are most likely mild forgetfulness, something that seems to increase as we age. So how do you know if your loved one’s forgetfulness is the sign of a more serious problem? The signs of a possible serious memory problem like Alzheimer’s or dementia include:

• Not being able to follow directions
• Getting lost in places they know
• Becoming confused about people, place, and time
• Asking the same questions
• Failing to care for themselves.

If your loved one is exhibiting any of these symptoms, make an appointment with their doctor right away.

Caring for a Loved One with Dementia

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be frustrating and exhausting. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of interacting with someone with dementia.


• Approach from the front
• Speak slowly and clearly waiting and allowing for responses
• Validate the way the person feels, hears, sees, and believes
• Give options and opportunities
• Remind yourself your behavior matters
• Be patient, kind, thoughtful
• Use cueing or demonstrating to help when your loved one struggles


• Argue
• Try reality orientation
• Talk down to your loved one or try to finish their sentences
• Limit choice due to perception
• Be mean, rude, abrupt, or dismissive

Listening is the most important part of dementia communication. Listen for your loved one’s emotions and feelings then focus on those feelings, not what they are saying.

When caring for your loved on with dementia, there will be times when you need help. Know that there are many resources out there to guide you through this journey. A great place to start is the Alzheimer’s Association.

Memory Care at Senior Services of America
Senior Services of America has many communities in Washington specializing in caring for seniors with dementia. You will find a compassionate care team, superb amenities, and a range of services that help our residents live independently. 

Find your nearest community today.

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