Dementia Dilemma: How to interact with those around you

As we age, the familiar world around us rapidly changes, and issues, like dementia, arise.

Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability. But, what many don't know is that there is a wide range of dementia.

"The early stages, caregivers tend to notice... Mom has some confusion or she isn't able to do simple tasks. She's been a gardener her whole life and now she's pulling the wrong weeds. These are early warning signs that doctor needs to know about so he can see if there are any interventions that can happen early on," says Faith Fisher, a social worker with Mercy Home Care. "But when it comes to more extreme dementia, that's when safety issues are a bigger concern."

When interacting with someone who has dementia, it is important to treat them with respect and not talk to them as a child.

"They forget these are people who have lived full, whole lives," says Stacey Connors, Activity Coordinator of Skill Care Unit at Mercy Medical Center. "They have had careers. They have raised families. They are very much adult individuals."

While the world constantly changes, it is also important to keep life close to normal for the dementia patient, while watching out for them at the same time.

"We try to make sure that client gets all of the independence they can have, but also keeping them safe," says Fisher.

"Before they are going to be discharged from the skilled care unit at Mercy, there will be a plan in place for their return, either home in the community or to an assisted living community," says Connors.

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