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How to Support Individuals with Dementia: Care, Resources, and Help
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How to Support Individuals with Dementia: Care, Resources, and Help

If someone you know has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, no matter your relationship to that person, it’s natural to feel both distress on that person’s behalf and a desire to help. In most cases, it’s a spouse or close family member such as a child or sibling who becomes the primary caregiver of someone with dementia. If you are in the position to provide care for a loved one, your feelings may be especially overwhelming after getting news of their diagnosis. Many people in this situation are anxious particularly because they don’t know what’s next or where to start.

Thankfully, there are always resources available in the community if you know where to look. At Town Square, we strive to provide socially engaging, therapeutic, and joyous senior day enrichment services to the Jersey Shore, and our sister locations in Princeton and Marlton offer the same beneficial services in other regions of New Jersey. More than that, we also aim to connect our members and their primary caregivers with other forms of help they need in order to make the dementia journey easier and healthier and find opportunities for fulfillment and greater quality of life. Contact us today for more information or to set up a free tour of our center, or read further to learn more about supporting someone in your life who has dementia.

How Can You Support Individuals with Dementia?

All forms of dementia are incurable, progressive diseases of the brain that proceed in clinically defined stages with different symptoms. However, one symptom that begins in the earliest stages is alterations in thinking that go along with short-term memory loss, including impairment in reasoning and the ability to change one’s mind. For this reason, challenges in supporting someone who has dementia can include determining their needs and convincing them to accept help.

When you communicate with a cognitively healthy person, and especially if you are trying to sway that person’s opinion, logic and compromise are often the best approach. However, these tactics are likely not to work on a person who has a cognitive impairment. If the person you’re talking to has issues with short-term memory, they may not be able to follow the conversation at all, and you may not be able to say anything productive nor get a helpful response. Arguing is equally unproductive and just serves to cause negative feelings on both sides.

Instead, it can be best to simply listen and be there with the other person in the moment, even if this involves affirming statements you don’t want to or that aren’t true. Once you’ve started in this manner, you can ask that person to do something with you or try some form of help as a favor or a way of helping you.

People with dementia can benefit a great deal from maintaining regular and fulfilling social connections and engaging with others on a daily basis – the human brain is built to connect with others, and a social support network is vital. Unfortunately, people in the early stages of dementia may choose to actively avoid socialization out of fear of embarrassment or being “found out” with regard to their condition. Therefore, Town Square is mindful that our programming is inclusive and welcoming, allowing our members to bond with their peers and our staff over reminiscence and maintain a constant place for meaningful conversation and interaction during weekdays.

How to Get Help for a Person with Dementia

Recognizing that you and your loved one need help is the first step to actually getting assistance. Even prior to formal diagnosis, the field of dementia care recognizes warning signs

  • Memory loss affecting day-to-day tasks
  • Difficulty with routine actions
  • Problems with speech or comprehension
  • Disorientation with regard to time and place
  • Impaired judgment and impulsiveness
  • Problems understanding numbers, symbols, or abstract concepts
  • Regularly misplacing objects in inappropriate places
  • Sudden changes in mood, changes in personality
  • Loss of initiative

As a caregiver, you should keep in mind that you can reach out for help if you are unable to perform other responsibilities such as your job, neglecting your health, feeling overwhelmed regularly, or unable to cope with emotions such as regret, grief, or anger.

Town Square at the Jersey Shore assists our members and their loved ones by providing referrals to medical dementia specialists and other service providers. All of the professionals we refer our members to are trusted, vetted partners with whom we have years-long relationships, so our members’ primary caregivers can rest assured that their loved ones will be able to find the best care.

What is the Best Thing to Do for Dementia?

Dementia has the best prognosis, leading to the best quality of life for both individuals with cognitive conditions and their caregivers, when it is detected early and there is early intervention. Even though there is unfortunately no cure for any form of dementia at this time, there are still many practical, clinically backed steps that can delay cognitive decline, improve daily life, and reduce or potentially eliminate the need to use an inpatient care facility. Furthermore, early diagnosis allows time for the person diagnosed with dementia to communicate their wishes and formalize a plan for their future.

As a caregiver, among the best things you can do are educating yourself and seeking training and new skills in dementia care. You should also make sure you look after your own physical and mental health. Town Square offers professional-led educational programs and support groups for primary dementia caregivers and other loved ones of our members – we want you to be equipped with the knowledge you need in your role.

People with a cognitive health condition such as dementia are best served by staying engaged in meaningful pursuits, connecting with others socially, and leading a physically and mentally healthy and active lifestyle. Town Square at the Jersey Shore’s model of care strongly supports all of these factors with our weekday enrichment programming.

Where is the Best Place for Someone with Dementia?

For many reasons, people with dementia prefer to remain living in their homes, and their caregivers typically strongly prefer this option as well. A familiar environment can be critical to the quality of life of a person who has dementia, especially with the presence of loved ones and other social relationships. Remaining at home through the course of a cognitive disorder also implies privacy, peace, and dignity, and does not come with the high financial cost of a long-term care or memory care facility.

At Town Square at the Jersey Shore, we have geared the care and services we offer towards helping our members stay in their homes and avoid the need to move to an inpatient facility. While we provide adult day services on a private-pay basis, there are many benefits that may be available to our members or their caregivers to reduce the cost, and this represents a significantly lower cost than both in-home care and long-term residential care.

Where to Get Help for Dementia in New Jersey

Individuals with dementia and their caregivers can find Town Square’s therapeutic, social, and fun reminiscence-focused adult day enrichment services across New Jersey at our three Garden State locations: At the Jersey Shore in Brick, in Princeton, and in Marlton. Our unique environment and programming are well suited for meeting the needs of members with a wide variety of past experiences, interests, and needs. We’re not just the best daytime enrichment centers around – we also strive to help with many other aspects of dementia care.

Our members are always encouraged to participate throughout the day, but are also always welcome to choose a different pursuit rather than a scheduled activity, such as browsing our library or conversing with other members in our open spaces. Members also have the chance to connect with Town Square’s highly-trained staff on a social basis, and we have seen them sometimes find fulfillment in helping staff members set up craft projects or decorate for theme parties.

If your loved one could benefit from weekdays filled with creativity, socialization, learning, and fun, reach out to us today to learn more about Town Square at the Jersey Shore or to set up a tour.