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Support Is Paramount For Those Caring For A Loved One With Dementia

In Florida, there are more than 450,000 people battling some form of dementia and that number is expected to grow by another 140,000 in the next 12 years. It is one of the world’s fastest growing diseases.

First signs
One of the first signs of dementia is mental changes. Forgetfulness is the best examples of this. It can start with not being able to remember the right word to describe something or forgetting a name or how to use a household appliance. As it progresses, the person will have increased difficulty making choices or decisions.

If a person exhibits personality changes, it may be a sign of dementia. This can include someone who has become overly friendly and flirtatious or can be at the other end of the spectrum and appear apathetic and introverted. Someone with dementia may also have mood swings or anger easily.   

Behavioral and personality changes tend to go hand-in-hand. A person with dementia may be restless, is easily agitated and anxious. He or she may also wander or get lost while walking or driving. Some may also neglect personal hygiene and household responsibilities.

Caregivers
According to a March 2012 report from the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for a person with dementia, with most of them being family caring for an aging parent or loved one. Although rewarding, it can often be quite stressful. Studies have shown, for example, that caring for someone with a brain-impairing disorder can be more stressful than caring for someone with a physical impairment.

This is why it is important for caregivers to find time to take a break from their responsibilities to recharge both physically and emotionally. Many assisted living facilities offer respite programs that allow caregivers to drop off their loved one for a few hours or a few days.

Support is also important. Help from other family members, friends and even community agencies can be an invaluable tool to help caregivers continue to provide adequate care. It may also be a good idea to seek out caregiver support groups. offers a support group for dementia caregivers twice a month. It is a time where caregivers can share stories and seek advice about issues they may be having.

In the end, families have to do what is best for them, whether that is caring for their loved ones at home or considering an assisted living community. While an assisted living facility is common for individuals in the later stages of dementia, every family has to approach the caregiving experience in a way that works best for them.

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