You may have been in a foreign city or neighborhood and shopped at a large box store. Although it looks identical to your local store in many ways, such as the logo and color scheme, but you walk down an aisle expecting breakfast cereals only to discover that there are school supplies. It can feel a bit disorienting. This disorienting feeling could be a glimpse at how someone with dementia sees the world.
You’re familiar with the effects of dementia on the behavior and personality of your loved ones. What does dementia look like inside? Understanding the perspective of your loved one can help you to feel more connected and compassionate.
What is dementia?
A set of symptoms that lead to cognitive decline is called dementia. You may experience it due to a number of conditions and diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury, and Parkinson’s. The following symptoms may be present:
- Memory loss
- Communication challenges
- Confusion and disorientation
- Organization and planning can be difficult
- Visual or spatial impairments
- Personality changes
- Inappropriate behavior
What does it feel like to have dementia?
It can be hard to define what dementia feels like. Every person’s experience of dementia is different. Most people, particularly in the later stages of dementia, can’t describe what they are feeling. These are the feelings that people experiencing dementia in their early stages or those with temporary brain tumor-related dementia. These feelings may not be experienced by your loved one at all, or may appear at different stages.
A person with dementia might notice that they don’t use the right word or are having difficulty typing. Or that they have trouble remembering familiar names. It can be frustrating for loved ones to discover that once easy tasks are difficult. They may also become frustrated with others and themselves. This can lead to a loss of self-confidence and withdrawal from favorite pastimes or social interactions.
Cognitive impairment can make it difficult for people with cognitive impairments to see the changes in their world and themselves. It is possible for them to not recognize that their behavior has changed or that they are not based in reality. You might appear to be the one acting out of character, and they may become annoyed by your unfounded concern, hovering attention, or anxiety. There is a stigma attached to dementia. Cognitive deterioration can be very difficult for both your parent and you.
Confusion and disorientation
Your loved one might find it difficult to understand why they are walking outside of their home. It can be disorienting to find a new neighborhood, or even their home, in which they have lived for many decades. As they lose the familiar, this can lead to anxiety or agitation. It is possible for your mom or dad to not recognize that their brains are confused and they have lost the familiar. They may be mistrustful or paranoid, accusing you or other caregivers of moving their belongings without asking.
Inability to manage their body budget
Lisa Feldman Barrett, a neuroscientist, and psychiatrist coined the term “Body Budget” to describe the way the brain receives sensory input from the body in order to satisfy physical needs. This process can be disrupted by dementia. Your loved one might not recognize signals telling them that they need water, food, or sleep. You may notice that they feel angry or listless, but you can fix their moodiness and fluctuating energy levels by eating lunch or drinking water.
Memory ailments can lead to your loved one becoming more impulsive, and some personality traits could become exaggerated. As dementia progresses, your assertive mother might become bossy or impatient. It can be difficult to recognize what your parent is thinking or feeling because of behavior changes. Your parent might become more open to strangers and make unfiltered comments. They may be able to reveal surprising talents or gifts. Research shows that a loss in function in one brain part can allow for new abilities to be expressed. For example, a loved one might suddenly have a talent for music or art.
Having a loved one with memory problems can be challenging. Reflections Assisted Living at Carolina Forest is a great resource for anyone who has a loved one suffering from dementia. Call us now.
Like our Facebook page for more great info about assisted living.