Realities of Dementia

By Connie Horn

It is incredibly difficult to watch someone age, especially when they begin to have health issues.  I think one of the worst issues to have to deal with is when someone has dementia. I can say this with complete certainty, because my mom had dementia.

Dementia is such a gradual disease, which, I suppose, is a good thing. As hard as it was to watch my mom slowly fade away, I think it would be much more difficult if she had lost her mental abilities abruptly, without warning. My mom is gone now, but my experience with her dementia has helped me to understand how dementia can impact someone’s life and the lives of their family, friends and others who support them.

Dementia in people with intellectual disabilities is most often the same as for anyone else.

The greatest challenges you may face are the personality and behavioral changes that often occur with this disease. If someone has a history of behaviors it becomes even more difficult to determine if the new behavior is part of that pattern or dementia related.  For this reason, often times the early warning signs of dementia are ignored.

Any form of a behavior can be upsetting, but the most important thing to remember is that the person is not behaving this way deliberately. The behavior may be targeted at you, but that is probably just because you happen to be there. It doesn’t mean that their feelings toward you have changed, just that their reactions have become different as the structure of their brain has changed.

Do you currently support someone with dementia? Are there any tips you can share on the challenges you face? What works and what doesn’t?

As you can imagine, having dementia is also difficult for the person who has the disease. This video will help you to understand how someone with dementia might feel:


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