July 12, 2024

Dementia and its realities by Folashade Babatunde

Yesterday, I watched an emotional video of a daughter who found her lost mum living with #dementia on a bus.

Unfortunately, her mum could not recognise who she was as she had lost her memory and wandered away from home. The daughter tried to introduce herself and call her mum by her name but that did not work.
A breakthrough came when she mentioned the title of her mum’s favourite song and started singing it to her, these brought her mum’s memories flashing back and reunited them.
This scene was touching as I could understand, as a #healthcare professional with contact with people with dementia, how terrible the daughter felt when she lost her mum and the relief that came when she finally found her and got her to remember who she was.
Dealing with people living with dementia can be challenging. Their #nutrition, safety, and #health can also be at risk if families do not get the right support to care for them.
A dear friend whose mum was diagnosed with dementia once shared how she had served her mum’s breakfast before leaving for work in the morning, informed her about it, only to return home in the evening to find the meal left untouched.
Her mum could not remember that her breakfast was ‘waiting’ for her. This is typical of some people with dementia because they are not able to retain information.
If you have a loved one who is living with dementia, you’ll find it helpful to seek professional guidance and get educated about this condition. This will help you learn what to expect and how best to protect and care for them.
For instance, some of the changes that occur due to dementia may affect their nutrition. Their #eatinganddrinking habits may alter as the disease progresses and put them at risk of #dehydration and malnutrition.
Some individual with dementia may prefer to eat certain foods only, their taste buds may change, their appetite may fluctuate, and they may not be able to recognise or communicate when they are thirsty.
Eating independently can become challenging as they may lose grip and coordination, struggle to pick up and hold on to their spoons or cups, making them spend more time at the table.
In addition, some #peoplewithdementia find it difficult to see meals served on plates that have the same colour as the food. For example, serving white rice on a white plate.
If you do not know that these changes can happen in dementia, all you would be seeing is a loved one who is ‘wasting’ money by refusing to eat her meals or choosing to be aggressive about everything.
As much as this situation can be tiring for you, losing their memories and their capacity to function as they used to is even more upsetting and frustrating for them.
If you have a family member with dementia or know someone who does, encourage them to seek #dementiaeducation, professional support and guidance including that of a dietitian, to keep loved ones safe, well nourished, and healthy.

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