Supporting Someone With Dementia
Caring for a person suffering from dementia can be difficult as the common behaviour and personality changes associated with it can be upsetting and hard to manage.
In this article, we’ll look at what dementia is and how some of its symptoms can be managed with the support of natural remedies.
What is dementia?
We often think of dementia as being a disease. It’s actually a collection of symptoms which have resulted from the brain damage caused by diseases like Alzheimer’s. The symptoms experienced differ based on which part of the brain has been affected by the disease. 
The early signs of dementia
The early signs of dementia are not always obvious and can sometimes be explained away as a lack of concentration or feeling unwell. Symptoms can also come on gradually so may not be noticeable for a long time.
Some of the common early symptoms are:
- Difficulty remembering, especially recent events
- Difficulty remembering the right words
- Becoming disorientated
- Concentration difficulties
- Withdrawal or depression
- Behaviour changes
- Personality changes
- Becoming unable to complete everyday tasks.
It should be noted that dementia is not a normal part of the aging process so if you’re concerned about symptoms that you or a loved one are experiencing, you should talk to a GP for advice and support.
Whether or not the symptoms are related to dementia, accessing medical help is important.
Coping with dementia symptoms
Tests are carried out to confirm a diagnosis of dementia, and although it can’t be cured, there are a range of ways to manage symptoms.
Certain medications can improve memory and decision-making abilities in individuals with specific forms of dementia by working on the brain's neural signals.
Glutamate, a brain transmitter, plays a large role in memory and learning. Medication to control its activity levels in the brain can be used to provide relief from difficulties. 
Your GP might also prescribe medications to treat other symptoms such as insomnia, depression or anxiety.
A dementia friendly environment
Occupational therapy can help in teaching coping skills and in making the home environment safer. Being able to manage behaviours more successfully and reduce the risk of falls will help to prepare someone as their dementia progresses.
Those with dementia can find loud noises and busy environments stressful. Reducing clutter around the home will help them to focus better and to manage tasks around the home. Hiding certain objects, such as knives and car keys, might be needed for safety.
Make difficult tasks manageable by simplifying them. Breaking a task into easier steps will make it more achievable. It is best to focus on the positives of what has been completed rather than what was not able to be done.
Spend time engaging in activities the person can manage. Trying something new or joining them in their favourite hobby can be fun and encourage your connection with them.
Structure and routine
Maintaining a routine can help in reducing confusion and enhances a sense of security. Try to keep the day predictable as much as possible, for example grocery shopping at a particular time and place. 
Talk to the person about what will happen, so they are more prepared and less likely to become anxious when an event or trip happens.
Encourage a nighttime routine as behaviour can often be worse early in the evening and at night. Insomnia is a common symptom of dementia. A calming environment away from noise and too much stimulation will encourage resting. Using a night light will help to reduce disorientation during the night.
Processing what’s being said and responding can be difficult for those with dementia. Take your time and wait for responses rather than rushing them. Simple language and pointing to objects may be needed to help in comunicating, as will giving just one instruction or idea at a time.
Exercise in dementia has several potential benefits including:
- Preventing muscle weakness
- Heart health
- Improving mood, reducing stress and depression.
Consider different ways to exercise, like water exercise, if mobility is a concern. Encourage taking part in activities the person enjoys, for example, gardening, walking and yoga.
How can natural therapies help improve wellbeing?
Essential oils can promote calmness and lead to more positive experiences and less anxiety.
Diffuse Aromacare’s Relaxation essential oil blend, containing bergamot, rose, geranium, lavender, petitgrain, rosewood and ylang ylang into the air; or give a back, arm or hand massage using Calming massage and body oil, as this blend of lavender, rosewood and sandalwood will help to balance emotions, calm the mind and reduce agitation and feelings of isolation.
The Sunrise blend of citrus essential oils can uplift the senses and promote better concentration.
Stimulate the appetite
A reduced appetite is not unusual in people with dementia. Our Appetite Stimulating Spray can help to promote a healthy appetite and ensure proper nutrition for those who may struggle to eat regular meals.
Be prepared to calm, relax and soothe
The Sundowner Aromatherapy kit is for health care facilities. With its array of aromatherapy products, you and your staff will have everything on hand to support residents who become unsettled, agitated, and confused in the late afternoons and early evenings. And the products may be used at any other time of day for these symptoms too!
Contact Aromacare’s experienced team if you have questions relating to this article or other concerns. We love hearing from you and can help guide you in the healing powers of natural therapies.