Caring for Family Members Living with Dementia

Caring for Family Members Living with Dementia

31 December 2023



Frequently asked questions and answers from family members and caregivers

In these cases, you should refer to your family doctor for a diagnosis. If the doctor finds it necessary, they will refer the patient to a specialist in geriatrics, neurology, or psychiatry.

Throughout the process, it is important to be patient and respectful of the patient's dignity. Speak politely and avoid putting them through tests that may embarrass them.

Although Alzheimer’s disease has no cure, there are ways to alleviate its symptoms and improve the quality of life for those living with it. A close and respectful attitude is essential, as is remembering who the person was before they became ill.

In the early stages of the disease, it is recommended to initiate cognitive exercises to help maintain the person's abilities and slow down the progression of the disease.

Even in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease, it is possible to provide patients with positive experiences through touch and sensory stimulation.

It is advisable to consult with your family doctor to diagnose the cause of sleep disorders. They will be able to adjust the therapy accordingly.

It is important to note that sleep disorders may be a sign of other health conditions, such as inflammation or pain. People with dementia may find it difficult to describe or express pain, so it may manifest as restlessness or disassociation.

A sleep disorder may also be a symptom of dementia and include nightmares and frightening illusions. In this case, you can adjust the patient’s daily routine or consult with a doctor regarding drug therapy.

Dementia can be brought on by a number of illnesses, and the second most prevalent type, vascular dementia, is brought on by the obstruction of tiny blood arteries in the brain. There are other additional conditions that can result in dementia, and they all have some similar symptoms. These include memory problems, difficulty communicating, impaired judgment and comprehension of external stimuli, and, occasionally, behavioral problems.

There are many different types of dementia. Each type is developing differently and, therefore, requires different treatment.

The attached link contains information on hospitalization in a long-term nursing facility.

You can reach a support group through non-profit organizations that help families of people with dementia.

For example:

You can also obtain assistance from HMOs. Some of them offer activities that can help people with dementia. Contact your HMO to find out what they offer.

People with dementia can develop behavioral problems, and one of the most difficult issues facing caregivers is their refusal to bathe. The patient’s refusal to bathe is very common, and family caregivers experience great frustration. It is worth noting that refusal to bathe and wash has a variety of reasons, including aversion to nakedness, fear of water and washing the hair, and more. People with dementia may sometimes believe that they have already bathed, even if they have not.

Ideas to help you cope:

  • Prepare the patient for bathing: if bathing makes the patient anxious, try to make it a calmer event by making preliminary preparationS, for example, ("We shall bathe in an hour”; Before we leave the house, we shall take a bath")
  • Make bathing simpler. Arrange the clothes and the bathing equipment in advance. Choose easy-to-use equipment
  • Make the process more pleasant: Try to create a calm atmosphere with music, scented body wash, a convenient water stream, and pleasant temperature, etc.
  • Adjust the timing of bathing: Consider the patient’s regular habits and choose a time when they are not too tired
  • Respect the patient's privacy: if the patient is uncomfortable with nudity, they can keep their underwear on during bathing and wash their private areas themselves. Sometimes, refusal might stem from a preference for a caregiver of the same gender, which should be accommodated when possible
  • If the person refuses to bathe altogether: You can skip full bathing and wash them with a sponge or cloth in a bowl of water or with baby wipes in a different room, such as the living room or bedroom. It is advisable to consult with experienced healthcare professionals, such as a nurse or occupational therapist

Remember to take safety precautions: use a bath seat in the shower, handrails, or other devices to prevent slips. Further reading on home-environment safety.

People with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia tend to withdraw from reality and prefer to communicate with characters from their past. They usually do so to protect themselves from their difficulties with reality perception in the present.

In spite of the difficulty of coping, it is recommended not to prove them wrong, correct them, or, for instance, tell them that a certain person is no longer alive. Instead, it is recommended to relate to their connection with those past figures, calm them, reminisce about mutual positive experiences, and then gently change the subject to distract them.

It is best to avoid arguing with or correcting people with dementia about their time perception. If their time perception does not cause them any physical or practical problems, it is best to simply go along with it. For instance, if a person with dementia believes that every day is Saturday and wants to light candles, it is best to simply go along with it. There is no harm in doing so.

Managing finances is one of the first cognitive abilities to decline in people with dementia. Dementia patients may, for example, withdraw large amounts of money without any reason. At an early stage, it is essential to appoint a close person who will make decisions in financial affairs, medical issues, and other matters in the future after there is a decline in the patient’s cognitive condition.

Recommendations for managing the finances of a family member with dementia
  • Transfer the financial management to another close family member
  • Talk with the bank manager and ask them to pay attention to unusual account activities
  • It is imperative to appoint a guardian for the patient’s assets, to give legal effect to the management of finances
  • It is advisable to consult healthcare professionals regarding economic issues, such as a doctor, a social worker, or a lawyer
  • You can get legal advice for the elderly, which is granted by the Yad Riva Organization
  • It is essential to remember that along with the practical issues, our patients are at the center, and we want to help them maintain their independence and sense of control. One way to do this is to give them some money to manage. and we want to help them maintain their independence and sense of control. One way to do this is to give them some money to manage.

Losing one's driver's license can be a major blow to a person's independence, routine, and self-esteem. However, dementia can impair a person's ability to orient themselves and make sound judgments. As such, driving while having dementia can pose a danger to the person and others.

It is advisable to consult with your family doctor on this issue.

It is important to note that according to the law, your family doctor is obliged to report patients whose driving may be dangerous to the Medical Institute for Road Safety (Marvad) in the Ministry of Health. In such cases, even if the patients refuse to stop driving, they may be required to pass a driving ability test. If they fail the test, their license may be revoked. Then, they may be eligible for driving rehabilitation or support in finding alternative transportation options.