A Day in the Life of Someone with Dementia

Written & Researched by Riya


Here is a day in the life of Grandma Avy! She has dementia, something that she deals with on a daily basis. Many of you might already know what dementia is, but the official definition is “impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities” (CDC).

Grandma Avy lives in a retirement home with a couple of her friends in a rural area with trees all around the area. It is early winter, around December, and it is quite cold outside. As soon as she gets up, she goes to the window to see some nature, but sometimes she stays in bed to relax for a bit. Sometimes, she forgets how to turn off the alarm due to its complex ways of working including the numerous buttons, especially since it is early in the morning. She has what is called moderate dementia, so it personally doesn’t affect her as much as late dementia, which deals with impaired communication and difficulty doing actions such as eating.

After this step in her day, she goes to the bathroom to brush her teeth. Typically, the certified nursing assistant (CNA) will come to provide her breakfast. It is common for Grandma Avy to lose her toothpaste tube and not remember where she last put it. Losing objects and forgetting where they are is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease (Ford-Martin), the type of dementia Grandma Avy has. It makes Grandma Avy a little frustrated and Luckily, the CNA is able to find it and puts the toothpaste on Grandma Avy’s brush.

Grandma Avy returns to her bed, with her breakfast table pulled out by the CNA. On her plate are two scrambled eggs, orange juice, and Galantamine, her daily medication that she takes twice a day. She takes Galantamine with her morning and evening meal, and it helps to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (learn more about Galantamine at the end of the entry!). She needs help getting dressed because she finds it difficult to get an outfit. She gets out some pants and a classic T-shirt, but the CNA reminds her that it is winter and it's pretty cold if she wants to take a short walk outside. Grandma Avy gets a bit frustrated and confused, a common symptom of dementia, and the CNA chooses out a nice red sweater for her that she loves. Needing assistance in choosing appropriate clothing and forgetting the weather is normal for people with moderate dementia (Alzheimer’s Association). Grandma Avy goes with the CNA out on a walk for 5 minutes, but gets a bit distracted today and wanders for a bit. She goes inside after viewing the nature.

After breakfast, Grandma Avy goes to the main area to talk with her friends for a couple hours. She gets a message that a visitor has come to meet her from her old college. She doesn’t remember who this person is, though she was her best friend during university, or the college she went to. Forgetting information about oneself and the past is a common effect of middle-stage Alzheimer’s as well (Alzheimer’s Association). She still has a good time with her friend, Melinda, when they bond over living in a retirement home and a few memories she recollected from those days. Grandma Avy spends the majority of the day speaking with Melinda, but gets withdrawn, struggling with weariness. She takes a long nap in the afternoon as she gets pretty tired from a lot of social interaction.

It’s time for dinner! Grandma Avy has some vegetables, meat soup, and rice. She takes her Galantine tablet again to help with her dementia. She enjoys her meal with her friends and goes to take a shower with the assistance of the CNA. She also gets help and does her daily night routine like brushing her teeth and more to keep herself healthy. Grandma Avy is set for bed! She gets a little restless, but begins to fall asleep as hours pass by.

What is Galantamine?

Galantamine is a medical drug that is important for Grandma Avy to live her life because it is a cholinesterase inhibitor, which helps to prevent the hydrolysis (or breakdown through the addition of water) of acetylcholine (Healthline). Cholinesterase is an enzyme that catalyzes the separation of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter, into acetic acid and choline (Trang and Khandar). Dementia is linked to low amounts of acetylcholine in the brain, and a lot of cholinesterase causes this reduced amount as it breaks acetylcholine down. With this cholinesterase inhibitor that galantamine puts into place, acetylcholine won’t break down, which will help to reduce the effects of dementia. Acetylcholine is important because it helps to carry out the necessary functions of the body starting in the brain. It is a neurotransmitter that allows humans to do normal actions, but without optimal amounts, it becomes difficult to do everyday things, hence why people with dementia often have a hard time fulfilling their needs.

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