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Experts Reveal How Those With Dementia See The World

Working with Dr Heather Palmer, Cognitive Well-Being Advisor, Amica Senior Lifestyles, is raising awareness as to how the world looks and feels to those with dementia.

More than 70,000 people in New Zealand live with dementia, often cared for by relatives and/or friends

Dementia is more than just forgetting things, both short and long term, it can have an impact on the cognitive way people see and feel the world around them

Wall patterns and shadows can look very different for those living with dementia, appearing as deep holes or insects crawling up walls

Dementia can make the breaking of old habits and the creation of new ones hard

Reminder notes are a good way to manage living with dementia but can be misinterpreted or misplaced by those with dementia

Latest reports estimate more than 70,000 people in New Zealand are currently living with dementia, with many cared for by family and friends on a full-time, part-time, and on a ‘when they can’ basis.

To help raise awareness as to what it is like to live, and care for someone with dementia, Amica Senior Lifestyles, has worked with Dr Heather Palmer to show how the world appears to those living with dementia. Providing people with an insight into certain behaviours that can develop, and what to look out for.

You can find the full page of insights and visuals here: https://www.amica.ca/conversations/what-living-with-dementia-looks-like

How Might A Living Room Appear To Someone With Dementia

ChangeReason
Visual Wall DistortionsRepresent how decorations can appear distorted and frightening to someone with dementia - ie. Dotted wallpaper can appear as large ants crawling up the wall
Dark HolesRepresents how shadows cast on the ground may be perceived as big holes and lead to a fear of falling into this bottomless pit, leading to those with dementia avoiding crossing the shadow
Glare From Light SourcesRepresents how even soft glow lamps can appear glared and bright, as those with dementia often experience light sensitivity 
View In The Window Represents how depth perception and the ability to judge distance pose additional dangers.

How Might A Kitchen Appear To Someone With Dementia

ChangeReason
Reminder NotesRepresent how many people use notes, however, they can often become disorganized or hard to read as handwriting deteriorates
Dead PlantsRepresents how those who live with dementia become unable to take proper care of their home, plants, pets, and even sometimes themselves
GlassesItems often get misplaced but for individuals living with dementia, there is a greater tendency to misplace multiple objects, even sometimes placing them in unusual locations
Pet FoodRepresents how items can sometimes be left or put out as people living with dementia have greater difficulty breaking old habits and building new routines

How Might A Garden Appear To Someone With Dementia

ChangeReason
Darkened SkyRepresents how many people living with dementia get their days and nights mixed up. 
Slippers On DeckRepresents how those with dementia often place something in a location that makes sense at the time but does not make sense later when they are looking for them
Garden ToolsRepresent the safety hazards and the risks of injury people living with dementia often face, often coupled with a tendency to pay less attention when walking and leading to higher risks of falls
Dying PlantsDue to neglect and not knowing what to do with dead flowers

Dr Heather Palmer, Cognitive Well-Being Advisor at Amica Senior Lifestyles, comments:

“It is hard for us to imagine how the world might seem and change for people living with dementia, however, it’s important to understand that certain views and behaviours might impact or be indicative of someone living dementia.”

“From noticing changes in behaviour when walking into rooms to neglecting plants, dementia can take many forms on someone’s way of life. But, through the use of various tools and tools and approaches, those living with dementia are still able to function well (or even better than they did before).”

Tips For Caregivers

To help those living with and caring for someone with dementia, Dr Heather Palmer has shared these seven (7) tips:

Building a base of knowledge to help gain a perspective on some of the cognitive challenges that seniors with dementia experience

Learn to understand the symptoms of dementia, such as forgetfulness, agitation, or hallucinations

Create strategies and plans that create joy and minimize triggers that may distress someone with dementia, such activities when a senior is typically most alert and happy or allowing seniors to enjoy a harmless delusion

Track the activities that help comfort a senior with dementia, such as soothing music or old photos, and those that cause anxiety or resistance i.e. noisy environments or hunger

Connect with other caregivers, friends, and other family, to help spread out the work and reduce caregiver fatigue and stress. This can be as simple as asking a friend to pick up groceries

Talk to others, talking about your challenges and feelings such as guilt, frustration and grief can be helpful

Ask for support when you need a break to help avoid burnout and recharge

The full visual insight can found here: https://www.amica.ca/conversations/what-living-with-dementia-looks-like

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