Dementia is one of the most difficult diseases of our time. Alzheimer's Disease International states, "There are currently estimated to be over 46 million people worldwide living with dementia. The number of people affected is set to rise to over 131 million by 2050." Everyone reading this post has either dealt with dementia in their own family, or knows someone who has.
One of the things that makes this such a difficult disease is how relatively little we know about it. There is currently no known cure for dementia, the disease affect people across all gender, racial, economic, and geographic groups, and the rate of diagnosis grows every single year.
Because so little is known about this terrible disease, there are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about dementia. If you have a loved one or family member dealing with dementia, it's important that you take the time to understand your loved one's disease, and equip yourself with the available tools and resources.
Utilizing information made available by groups like Alzheimer's Disease International and the Alzheimer's Association is a great first step in understanding what your loved one is going through. There are many different types of dementia, and finding out what specific dementia diagnosis your loved one is experiencing will go a long way in understanding their symptoms and possible treatments or interventions.
Finding a support group of other people who have loved ones experiencing dementia will be one of your greatest assets as you undergo this process. Being a caregiver for a person with dementia can be one of the most physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing experiences of your life. Surround yourself with other people who can relate to your experience, share the lessons they're learning, and encourage you through this difficult time.
Finally, always be the best advocate you can be for your loved one and for yourself. Make sure you understand the information you're receiving from doctors and specialists, and if you don't, find a new one. Ask questions about medications being prescribed, about possible side effects and interactions with other medications, and about long-term expected results.
While there is no existing cure for dementia, we believe that people are identified by more than their diagnosis. They are people with rich life history, memories, and legacies, and one of the best things you can do for your loved one is to constantly celebrate those things. Give them love, comfort, and dignity, and know that you are surrounded by people who care about you, and are here to support you and fight this disease alongside you.