Beyond Forgetfulness: Understanding the True Impact of Dementia

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Have you ever come across the term dementia? If so, you might be surprised to learn that there are actually 170 different types of dementia. Unfortunately, only one out of five families with a loved one living with dementia is able to access the necessary resources to navigate through this challenging situation. This stark reality highlights the limited awareness and understanding surrounding this topic.

To address this issue, the Bougainvillea City Dementia Café recently organized a special event at 1 Lasam, where they invited Calvin Chong, a psychologist and trainer for Positive Approach to Care. With six years of experience helping dementia patients, Calvin emphasized that while awareness about dementia is growing, there is still a shortage of manpower in the healthcare field to adequately support dementia patients and their families, primarily due to a scarcity of new professionals entering the field.

During his talk, Calvin also highlighted the burden of guilt that caregivers often experience. They frequently question whether they are doing enough for their loved ones. Calvin emphasized that relieving these feelings requires support from those around the caregivers, and simply being present and offering support can make a significant difference in their journey.

Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not just about forgetfulness. It is a disease that gradually deteriorates a patient’s cognitive skills, from memory impairment to even forgetting basic tasks like eating. Calvin’s talk aimed to educate the participants on how to live with and care for someone with dementia.

 

One crucial point Calvin mentioned is that caregivers should be mindful of not talking excessively. Dementia patients primarily rely on visual cues and body language rather than listening to what is being said, especially considering that hearing is one of the senses that deteriorates early in most dementia patients. Therefore, it is important to provide visual cues and communicate through shortened sentences when interacting with them.

Calvin also stressed that care cannot be forced upon dementia patients, as it will likely result in resistance. Instead, he introduced the hand-under-hand technique, which involves carrying out activities with the patient rather than making them comply with specific tasks. This approach respects the patients’ independence and also reduces the risk of injury, as caregivers can easily provide support and prevent falls. The participants of the talk enthusiastically practiced the technique, resulting in chatter and laughter filling the room, while Calvin ensured everyone mastered it by the end of the session.

The Bougainvillea City Dementia Café holds meetings every third Tuesday of the month, providing a valuable opportunity for individuals living with dementia and their caregivers to connect and support one another. The next meeting is scheduled for June 20, 2023, at 1 Lasam. If you or a family member is affected by dementia, don’t hesitate to drop in for a coffee and a chat. If you are interested in joining them or would like more information, please reach out to the Café Coordinator, Pak Peter, at 019 5743572, or email them at dementiacafe.ipoh@gmail.com. You can also stay updated by following their Facebook page, “Dementiacafe Ipoh.”

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