Approximately 200,000 people in the United States suffer from early onset dementia.
Whereas most people are diagnosed with dementia after the age of 65, early onset dementia affects those in their 40s and 50s.
In rare cases, dementia can occur as early as someone’s 30s.
Those with early onset dementia typically still hold a job or have children depending on them. This can make the diagnosis that much more devastating.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the ways you can help an individual with early onset dementia. And although it may be devastating, there are still things you can do to help make his or her life better.
Early Onset Dementia: Know About Their Lives and Responsibilities
Those who are diagnosed with dementia later in life often no longer have as many responsibilities. They may be ready to move into a care home in a matter of a few weeks.
This is not the case for someone with early onset dementia.
As mentioned in the introduction, some individuals may still have children living at home. They may also have to pay a mortgage or rent. Additionally, they may still need to keep a job.
If you’re caregiving for this person, you need to know all about their daily habits. This includes what bills they need to pay, what their children at home need and the medication they need to take.
You’ll need to help them manage and juggle these responsibilities as it becomes increasingly difficult.
Be Aware of Safety
You should always think about your loved one’s safety. Any potential harm or stressors should be removed from their home.
As their disease progresses, they will begin to lose the ability to monitor the safety of situations. This can lead to dangerous scenarios that put the person and anyone else with them at risk.
If your loved one has early onset dementia and they’re still living by themselves, assess their home for potential hazards. These should be removed.
Check-In as Often As Possible
If you’re not living with your loved one with early onset dementia, you should check in on them regularly. This can be once a day or once every two or three days. The frequency should depend on how well they are doing.
You should make your visits more frequent as they begin to decline.
Frequent check-ins assure you that they are doing well and things are still running smoothly in their household.
Don’t Assume They Can’t Do Something
Early onset dementia creeps in slowly, sometimes in very mysterious ways. An individual may be able to do some things for a very long time by themselves, while they can no longer do other things.
Don’t take over tasks for them, but monitor how they behave and how well they’re able to complete them. Allow them to do any tasks or chores themselves until they are unable.
Don’t Treat Them Like Children
As people begin to decline, they may regress into a childlike state. It can be tempting for caregivers to begin to treat their loved one as though they are treating a child. Remember, this person is still an adult and still the person you love at the core.
Refrain from using baby talk or simplistic vocabulary.
Minimize Stressors and Triggers
For some individuals with early onset dementia, certain things can trigger them or make them feel stressed. This can cause a breakdown or for emotions to run high. For some people, this can be something as simple as showering.
Know what your loved one’s stresses and triggers are. Help them through whatever it is that they have trouble coping with by being there for them. You may devise a plan to help them get through whatever it is they have trouble doing.
Discuss Power of Attorney
A person with early onset dementia can still make legal and financial choices for themselves. As dementia is progressive, this will not last forever.
You should meet with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss you or someone in your family taking over their financial responsibilities. This will also mean making legal decisions such as healthcare.
The Power of Attorney, as this is referred to, can only be created as long as the individual is lucid and still in control of his or her actions. Keep this in mind as they regress, and speak about this aspect of dementia sooner than later.
Dementia can be scary for both the person suffering from it and for the caregiver. It can include mood swings, hallucinations and your loved one actings like a different person.
Although you can’t know exactly what to expect, educating yourself can make you and your family a little bit more prepared.
Learn more here about dementia. Speak to other individuals who have cared for family members with dementia. Go to the library and read about it or join local support groups. This can help tremendously.
Don’t Forget Self-Care
Caring for someone with early onset dementia can become a full-time job. It can take a heavy toll on you both mentally and physically. Always remember to think about yourself in the equation.
If you find you are unable to cope, discuss with your family the possibility of hiring someone else to help you. You should also plan for your loved one to enter a facility or hire a full-time aid when things become too difficult for you to manage.
Keep Everyone’s Best Interest in Mind
Caring for someone with early onset dementia can be even more stressful than caring for an older adult with dementia. This is, obviously, due to the responsibilities the person still has. Remember, you want your loved one to be comfortable and have as much dignity as possible.
However, you also want to ensure you take into account the best thing for their children and dependents.
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