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2023 FEB Family Caregivers Blog

Family Caregivers' Blog is available now to share useful information for families caring for those with dementia.

What to do about dentures?

Ms. A’s mother, in her early 80s, has been having dental problems, and her dentist suggested getting dentures.  Since her mother loves to eat, Ms. A is considering this option.  However, getting dentures involves dental procedures that can be challenging for someone with dementia who might resist the treatment.  Additionally, dentures may no longer fit properly as the gums recede, requiring adjustment or replacements.

Dentures are foreign objects placed in the mouth, and it’s uncertain whether a person with dementia can adapt to them.  Introducing dentures after dementia has progressed can be very difficult.  It is essential to consider the pros and cons before deciding on dentures.  Some people may still enjoy eating with the natural teeth they have left without needing dentures.  This varies from person to person.

In conclusion, carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks when deciding whether to proceed with dentures. It is important to assess the individual’s ability to adapt and the potential challenges involved.

A little white lie for peace of mind – Prioritizing QOL Quality of Lile!

Ms. B’s mother has recently been experiencing more frequent incontinence, leading to a switch from regular underwear to pull-ups.  Her very stylish mother finds the idea of wearing pull-ups unacceptable!  However, she can’t distinguish between disposable pull-ups and regular underwear.  To maintain her mother’s dignity and ensure she feels comfortable, Ms. B handled the situation delicately.  When she finds used pull-ups in the drawer, she says, “I’ll put this in the laundry,” and later discreetly disposes of it.

If Ms. B were to say, “Why did you put these pull-ups here?” or “You need to throw away the pull-ups!” it would likely lead to an argument and hurt her mother’s dignity. Instead of focusing on minor issues and trying to correct or change her mother, Ms. B lets these things go, using a little white lie to prioritize her mother’s QOL. This approach helps maintain a peaceful and respectful environment.

By not getting caught up in the details and focusing on preserving her mother’s dignity and comfort, Ms. B emphasizes the importance of Quality of Life.

A Little White Lie for Peace of Mind - Part 2

Continuing from last time, let’s talk about a little white lie.

While deceptive lies or tricks that harm others are wrong, small acts of consideration that protect someone's feelings can be beneficial. Ms. A's mother has advanced dementia but still wants to bring joy to those around her. Making others happy is likely part of her QOL (Quality of Life).

Ms. A's mother recently started attending a Day Program and bought ten boxes of sweets as souvenirs from a trip. This was far too many, and the staff at the Day Program complained about receiving such a large quantity. Ms. A's father, who always cares for her mother, was also upset by what he considered an excessive and unreasonable act. However, for Ms. A's mother, buying ten boxes expressed her desire to make others happy. How can we honor this sentiment while managing the situation?

One approach is to discreetly redirect five boxes elsewhere and bring the remaining five to the Day Program, then tell her mother that all ten boxes were delivered. Alternatively, you could stagger the delivery, bringing five boxes one week and the other five the next. This thoughtful planning can be significant since sweets have a limited shelf life.

Creating a dementia-friendly society means understanding and valuing the feelings of those with dementia and adjusting accordingly. It involves thoughtful actions by those around them to accommodate their needs. Ms. A's mother's sweets were probably very delicious, and this approach allows her to share that joy without overwhelming anyone

Anxiety Breeds Anxiety! Is Anxiety Contagious?

Dementia often comes with varying degrees of anxiety. Ms. N’s mother occasionally experiences bouts of anxiety. Ms. N lives with her mother, and when she goes out shopping, her mother sometimes forgets and starts anxiously searching for her, causing a commotion. To prevent her mother from becoming anxious, Ms. N leaves notes and makes various other efforts.

Family members witnessing their loved one with dementia can also become anxious and unsure of how to help. This anxiety can then be sensed by the person with dementia, amplifying their anxiety. Indeed, anxiety within a family can be contagious and multiply, sometimes affecting the entire household.

To break this cycle, family members need to take a moment to breathe and try to escape the vicious circle of anxiety. If a loved one with dementia is feeling anxious, it might help to engage in a distraction together. Going for a short walk, cooking together, watching TV, or doing any activity that shifts focus away from anxiety can be beneficial. This approach can help alleviate stress and bring a sense of calm to the person with dementia and their family members.

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