By Keisha L. Jackson
As scientists around the world hurry to find a cure for the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important not to “forget” the looming worldwide dementia epidemic. Every three seconds a person is diagnosed with a form of dementia. By 2030, an estimated 82 million people are projected to have dementia and 152 million by 2050 (World Health Organization).
Like COVID-19, dementia is no respecter of race, gender, socio-economic status, or achievement. For the person suffering from dementia, his/her thinking, behavior and feelings can be affected. Dementia can cause deliria, mood swings and personality changes.
Caring for a loved one with dementia can take a physical and emotional toll too. Family members, dementia caregivers have reported higher stress levels than other unpaid caregivers. One reason is because they do not understand the “dementia brain” or how their loved one processes information. Depending on the tolerance of the person being cared for and the caregiver’s skills and ability, stress and anxiety can be overwhelming for both.
After seven years of being the primary caregiver for her late father-in-law who suffered from dementia, writing two books on caregiving, and becoming an international speaker on dementia-related caregiving issues, America’s Heroes Group Roundtable for Military Family Caregivers’ guest Bobbi Carducci shared practical tips to help family, dementia caregivers find a yes to reduce stress. Bobbi is a Certified Caregiving Consultant and Educator.
Don’t ask a yes or no question like, “Are you hungry?” No is one of the first words we learn as an infant and is full of power. Instead, place their food in front of them, get a snack yourself, and sit with them, were some initial tips shared by Bobbi. Eventually they will mimic what you are doing, she said.
When your loved one does not want to take a shower—if they resist, don’t insist. If the response is, “no,” walk away; give them time to think. A suggestion, put on scrubs, walk into the room, and say, “Hello Mr./Mrs. So-in-So, Doctor So-in-So said it’s time for a shower.”
Become knowledgeable about dementia as early as possible. Webinars, online support groups, social media groups, and organizations run by and for dementia caregivers are available. For dementia caregivers of military and veterans, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs offers a variety of benefits to assist veterans with dementia as well as caregiver support services.
In addition to being a sought-after speaker and consultant, Bobbi co-hosts the RodgerThat.show with her husband, Mike. The Rodger That.show is a weekly podcast dedicated to guiding you through the heavy haze of dementia.
Keisha L. Jackson is a 22-year retired Air Force veteran. After caring for her mother who had stage 4 inoperable lung cancer, Keisha started learning about caregiver resources to share with other caregivers.