Dementia And AIDS

In its later stages, AIDS can lead to confusion and dementia. Caregivers need to prepare for this difficult and awkward stage.

Dementia (having trouble thinking) can be a problem for your loved one with AIDS. AIDS can affect the brain, causing:

  • Poor memory
  • Short attention span
  • Trouble moving, speaking, or thinking
  • Less alertness
  • Loss of interest
  • Wild mood swings

These problems can upset the person with AIDS, as well as those around him or her. Mental problems can make it hard to follow the planned routines for care making it difficult to protect your loved one from infections. Be prepared to recognize problems, understand what is happening, and talk to a doctor, nurse, social worker, or mental health worker about the proper course of action.

If your loved one does develop mental problems, here is a list of ways you can help:

  • Keep items used daily in the same place, a place that is easy for you and your loved one to reach and easy for him or her to see.
  • If you need to, remind your loved one where he or she is and who you are.
  • Don’t scold your loved one when he or she forgets (for example, names, the time, and the date).
  • Put a clock and calendar where the person you’re caring for can see them, mark off the days on the calendar, and write in it what will happen each day.
  • Put up pictures of friends and relatives, and write their names on the pictures.
  • Speak in short, simple sentences.
  • Don’t be afraid to be firm.
  • Remove dangerous objects from the reach of your loved one with AIDS.
  • Keep the sound from TVs and radios down so your loved one isn’t confused by unexpected noise.
  • Talk to a health care worker who deals with dementia about how to handle present and potential problems.

© Copyright FamilyCare America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Adapted from Caring for Someone with AIDS at Home: A Guide, ACTIS Publication No. D817, United States Department of Health and Human Services, AIDS Clinical Trial Information Service.

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