What is Dementia and How to Help

This has been some excerpts from one of our Dementia Friendly Training programs. Fidelity Bank in Dubuque, IA is now Dementia Friendly Bank.

What is dementia?

So what is dementia? The term dementia, we use that, and it’s okay.

Our society accepts that. The medical field agrees with that.

I have never run into a family member where I said, oh gosh, you know, you’re the family member has dementia.

Are we looking at the memory care unit? That would be my lingo in my job. I’ve never been corrected by them saying, no, not dementia.

It’s Alzheimer’s, or no, it’s vascular dementia. You know, society accepts that umbrella.

So really, the term dementia is really just describing a set of symptoms, and those symptoms, which fall into all types of dementia, are that memory loss, the communication, and language deficit starts to happen, the ability to focus and pay attention, their reasoning and judgment, and their visual perception, and we’ll have on all of those as we go through the day.

You all, in your day to day, are probably dealing more with the reasoning and judgment or the ability to pay attention because you might have somebody come in like three times to your branch in one day and trying to withdraw or make some transaction, and how do we handle that?

So we’ll talk about this. So dementia itself is not a disease, but it’s the symptoms that fall into those diseases. So really, what dementia is is the umbrella of the different types of dementia, which would be vascular dementia or the Parkinson’s disease with dementia-related illnesses, vascular dementia, which is usually because of a stroke.

So that’s kind of comparable to, when we say dementia, we could equal that to fruits, all of those types that I just discussed, and then the fruits would be cantaloupe and watermelon and strawberries, so that kind of makes sense.

Dubuque, Iowa Adults Living with Dementia

This is actually from 2014. These numbers haven’t changed all that much, but they are on the rise just because of, excuse me, baby boomers and whatnot.

The one that I want to point out, because we are in Dubuque, in the Dubuque area, there are one in nine individuals that are 65 and older, that we are estimating that they have Alzheimer’s disease, which means 10,000 people are living in our Dubuque area.

That’s a huge number to me, 10,000 people living in our area. The amount that breaks my heart is that only 50% of those folks are getting the help that they needed, and that may be because of the individual’s denial, the family’s denial, healthcare costs.

Helping and Making it Easier

There could be a lot of reasons why they’re not getting the help that they need, so again, we as a community need to step up and say, hey, Fidelity has been your banking institution for 50 years.

We want to keep that going. We want to make you comfortable with that. So those are the things that just kind of really shouted out to me because that’s a lot.

I mean, Dubuque community isn’t that big, you know, when you compare to other metropolitan areas, and we’re talking about 10,000 people.

What can we do to help people with dementia is to be a guide for them, use simple, short statements, try not to argue?

I wouldn’t even say that. Let’s not argue. Those of you who have been caregivers, have you ever discussed with your loved one with dementia?

Because you learn after the first time. It’s just; it’s not worth it. If they’re saying that their shirt’s green and it’s blue, okay, they have a blue shirt on for the day. Who is that hurting? Nobody.

It’s all okay, so it’s tough. Now, in your positions, it’s a little bit more difficult because they may be pounding their fist on your desk, saying I know I have $60,000 in my account, but you know that they don’t.

So those are the things where I’m going to leave a handout, and we’ll go through that quickly just on how to kind of get by those types of things.

So don’t argue because it’s just kind of a mess, and things elevate a little bit too crazy.

If they ask the same thing multiple times, it’s okay to give the same response. If you can be creative and are a quick thinker, I’m not a quick thinker on my feet all the time, but when I am, and I can come up with a different way to word the same answer, that may click, and that’s always just good advice to have sometimes for anybody.

Statements to Use to Make it Easier

Sometimes we have jerks that walked into our lives, and it’s like, oh, yeah, that, and then again, that one question at a time to guide them, and it’s all, you know, it can be kind of like a checklist in their mind.

And this would make anybody feel good if you walked into a business.

Hey, I’m here to help if you need anything. Let’s give it a try. How can I help you?

That’s all right. Things like this happen, if they’re making a mistake. It was beautiful to see you today.

This one is significant for people with dementia. Again, that little high school guy at Jimmy John’s, he didn’t even say don’t worry.

I can help you with that. He just did it. That would have been the only advice that I would have given to him, to say, you know, you could have told her I’m here to help you with that.

Don’t worry about it. We got this together. That would make anybody feel good, and then again, that whole word together is a comforting word in our vocabulary.