Dementia-related psychosis: the role of the caregiver
The treatment of dementia-related psychosis is different for everyone. One thing is for sure: as a caregiver, you play a big role in your loved one’s care plan. With your help, they can have a better quality of life as long as possible.
Control their behavior
Your loved one can play in weird ways. Their behavior may be harmless.
For example, it is common to think that people with dementia are not at home. James Lai, MD, associate head of the Yale School of Medicine’s geriatric clinic, said people with dementia could also go to their room to pick up some things. If all they want to do is pick up a bag and unpack it, he says it’s okay. You can also help.
“As long as these [delusions] they’re not stressful, you can take part in them, “says Laik.” If you tell them what they’re always doing isn’t right or try to remind them they won’t go to this place, I think you’ll see that it creates more stress and anxiety. “
It is not always possible to calm your loved one on your own. They can be really upset or driven.
“You want your doctor to be involved here,” Laik says.
But the symptoms of psychosis are not always frightening for people with it. Christopher van Dyck, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit at Yale Medical School, says Lewy people with dementia in their body often see animals or people who aren’t really there. But these creatures are not only threatening and also soothing.
“The person who [the hallucination] he can live very happily with more domestic dogs, ”he says.
Caution Warning Signs
It is not always easy for your loved one to be deceived or hallucinated. They may not know it themselves. Laik says to see the signs, like them:
- Move things
- Be angry or aggressive in certain situations
- They are afraid to enter a room
- Avoid certain people or places
Sometimes psychosis can be a sign of other medical problems, Laik says. This is especially true if the symptoms are completely gone. Your loved one may not tell you that the subject is not feeling well.
If you notice you should call your doctor:
- Sudden changes in behavior, mood, or personality
- Weight loss
- Lack of hunger
- Periods to look at
- Lots of falls
- Severe sadness or low mood
- Much more sleep than usual
Work with your doctor
You can help your loved one make timely visits. You can make sure they check your hearing, vision, or overall health. But that’s not your only mission. Arman Fesharaki-Zadeh, MD, a behavioral neurologist and neuropsychiatrist with Yale Medicine, said caregivers are a key source of “objective session-by-session updates.”
He suggests that you should observe the following:
- What time do the symptoms occur?
- Do they appear around sunset?
- Do they happen around any kind of change?
- Does it affect a new person?
- Is your loved one really worried and scared in certain situations?
Put your information and bring it to the next appointment. Fesharaki-Zadehe says this will help you and your doctor to look for patterns that can worsen the psychosis associated with your loved one’s dementia. You will be able to relieve certain symptoms if you find and avoid certain agents.
Complete the Treatment Plan
Your loved one would need medication for dementia or other health problems. You need to make sure they take the right path.
If possible, Laik suggests that they participate in the treatment routine. For example, put a medicine on a machine that throws a button when it throws a button.
“Returning some control is usually a good thing,” he says. “Even if it’s small.”
Carolyn Fredericks, MD, a neurologist at Yale Medicine who treats people with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders, says medications won’t remove the deceptions. But it can help tone symptoms that worsen psychosis, such as agitation or confusion.
Some of these drugs come as patches, “can be helpful if the person is suspicious and doesn’t want to take the pills.”
Get yourself help
It’s hard work to take care of someone with dementia. You may be the only one who can or should do this. But that will get you to burn the caregivers. It is physical fatigue or mental fatigue. It can cause medical problems that can lead to anxiety and depression. This can affect the quality of care you give your loved one.
“Even the best caregivers in the world need rest and self-care,” says Fredericks. “That’s how you get to be a good caregiver, allowing yourself to be well.”
You can get extra help in many ways. Ask your doctor about:
- Home health care providers
- Elderly centers
- Adult day care
- Long-term living facilities
Fesharaki-Zadeh suggests that caregivers go to groups like the Alzheimer’s Association. You can find access to an extensive network of support related to dementia.
“These are people in the trenches that deal with the issues,” he says. “They can be very helpful and quite therapeutic.”