Dementia can affect all aspects of a person’s life, from their thinking and behavior to their ability to perform simple tasks. As communication difficulties are a common symptom of progressing dementia, it can be increasingly challenging to care for someone with this disease. As a caregiver, you may feel ill-prepared and unsure of the best way to approach dementia care. By understanding how dementia affects a person and how to provide the right type of support, you can learn how to take care of someone with dementia through every stage of the disease.
Examine Your Priorities
Caregivers often try to do it all. In addition to providing care to a loved one, they may be responsible for tidying the house, caring for children, and possibly working outside the home. All of these responsibilities can be overwhelming and leave caregivers feeling exhausted both mentally and physically. To provide the best care possible for someone with dementia, you have to learn to manage your priorities and possibly reduce the number of responsibilities on your plate. Focus on things in your life that are truly important and find help and support from family members and friends when you can.
People with dementia often struggle with a general loss of self. As you would assume, this can be highly frustrating and cause a lot of emotional turmoil. As a caregiver to someone with dementia, it is vital to be understanding about the person’s condition and learn patience. Someone with dementia may be reluctant to perform certain tasks. The person may have trouble trying to communicate or may be unable to do things they could before, such as prepare a meal. Be mindful of the things that often make you impatient. If you find yourself struggling with patience quite often, practice deep breathing exercises which can help calm the mind and body.
Create a Calm Environment
It can be difficult to care for another person in a chaotic environment. Cluttered countertops, piles of laundry, and a sink full of dishes can bring unnecessary stress to your life. By creating a calm environment, you can benefit yourself and your loved one. Take just five minutes a few times a day to tidy up. Create a pleasing scent with fresh flowers or a diffuser. Instead of having the television as background noise, play some soothing music. When it comes to décor, opt for calm, neutral colors instead of bright hues and busy patterns.
Recognize Caregiver Stress
It can be easy to overlook your rising stress levels, especially when you are so busy caring for another person. However, if you experience stress on a regular basis it is important to talk to your doctor and possibly take a break from your caregiving duties. Some of the most common signs of caregiver stress include social withdrawal, anger at the person with dementia, anxiety about the future, depression, irritability, fatigue, and lack of concentration. The caregiver may also be in denial about their loved one’s dementia diagnosis.
Recognize and Address Changes
Symptoms of dementia can quickly worsen as dementia progresses. It is important to be prepared for the future and know how you will handle changes in your loved one’s mood and behavior. In the later stages of dementia, a person may lose their ability to care for themselves. Chewing and swallowing may become difficult, the person may become incontinent, and walking without support can be challenging. When these types of changes occur, it may be time to accept professional help. While some families prefer to move their loved one to a nursing home or assisted living facility, others want their loved one to remain at home. Home health care services can make this possible.
Practice Good Communication
Dementia can affect the way a person speaks and expresses themselves. You may find it necessary to learn new ways to communicate with your loved one. When speaking to someone with dementia, talk slowly and clearly using short sentences and simple language. Instead of asking open ended questions, try to ask questions that have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. As memory recollection can be difficult for people with dementia, try not to test the person’s memory which can cause feelings of anger or frustration.
Be Alert of Safety Issues
If your loved one is in the later stages of dementia, you may be worried about their safety. Common symptoms such as confusion and mobility issues can make some homes more hazardous than others. There are a number of ways you can help keep your loved one safe from harm, such as keeping the car keys out of sight, installing alarms on doors and windows that will alert you if opened, and closing off decks and stairways. In addition, remove any potentially dangerous tools, machines, or toxins.
While a diagnosis of dementia can be difficult to take in, it is important for caregivers to stay involved in their loved one’s healthcare plan. This means knowing and understanding their diagnosis, being aware of treatment options and therapies available, and learning how to best help your loved one deal with their disease. It can be helpful to accompany the person to their doctors’ appointments and take notes. If you have specific questions, write down a list and ask your loved one’s doctor during their next appointment. The more that you know about the diagnosis, the more effective you can be in your caregiving.
Learn More About Dementia Care
Approximately 47.5 million people are currently living with dementia worldwide. This group of conditions can lead to a major loss of cognitive functioning, resulting in symptoms like memory loss, poor judgment, forgetfulness, and diminished social skills. While there are medications and therapies available to help manage symptoms, there is no cure for dementia. Many families find stress relief and great comfort in seeking the help of trained professionals who have experience caring for dementia patients. For more information about how to take care of someone with dementia, contact Comfort Home Care.