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Dementia patients aware of losing grasp suffer breakdowns most - DementiaGuide.com - DementiaGuide.com
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The Difficulties of Dementia for Patients - DementiaGuide.com

Posted on February 2, 2009 by DementiaGuide

Being aware that you are losing cognitive function is the most challenging aspect of dementia

Researchers have found that people with dementia who are still aware enough to realize they are losing their ability to function are more likely to have dramatic emotional breakdowns. This is the most difficult time in the process of obtaining a diagnosis for dementia --- knowing you are losing control.

Studies have shown that patients who are in the middle of their decline are five times more likely to become intensely distressed than patients either in the early or late stages of dementia. It seems that the middle of the cognitive decline is the hardest time for patients with dementia.

Care providers and family membersoften witness what scientists call a "catastrophic" reaction, where a patient becomes extremely agitated and emotionally upset. People in the middle stage of dementia typically have an increasing need for help with tasks like personal hygiene and eating. Other common signs are greater problems with short-term memory, difficulty making decisions about daily living, and increased trouble communicating with others. Feeling all of this happen is extremely difficult and one of the hardest things for persons with dementia to accept.

A catastrophic reaction is when somebody loses control emotionally. These episodes cause extreme emotional pain for the person as they experience it. The angst they're expressing is truly felt. These patients are in intense emotional distress and need immediate help from their care providers.

The one event that triggers the most episodes of acute distress is needing help with personal hygiene, particularly care that seems intrusive; patients may see such care as a sign that they are no longer in control of their own bodies. This is a turning point in dementia for patients.

Realizing that you are losing control is one of the most difficult moments in the decline process of dementia for patients. Therefore, caregivers have a tremendously difficult job during this phase. Personnel in nursing homes need to approach residents about care issues in an especially gentle way, bearing in mind how hard dementia is for them. It's a very painful, sad time. By understanding these reactions better, care providers and families may be able to lessen their impact and occurrence, making life better during this stage of dementia.

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