There are at least 5 fundamentals of caring for someone with Dementia today. Dementia is painful, both for the person dealing with it and the one caring for them. People dealing with dementia require constant care, which means someone should be available around the clock. It is understandable that caring for someone with dementia can be physically and emotionally challenging for the caregiver.
If you want to provide the best possible care for such a person, you should start with preparation. It is crucial to learn more about dementia itself, as well as understand the disease and how it could affect the patient. Here are 5 Fundamentals of Caring for Someone with Dementia that caregivers should know to improve the quality of their care.
1. Dementia Is More Than Losing Memory
The first thing you should do to understand dementia better is to know some facts about it. If you ask an average person, they will often tell you that memory loss and dementia are identical, but that is not true.
Statistics indicate that Alzheimer’s is the most frequent version of dementia. In the United States, up to 80% of patients dealing with this disease were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. However, there are other dementia-related conditions that can lead to personality changes and other issues.
Frontal lobe dementia might be the best example of dementia. It happens when the patient exhibits changes in behavior and personality. The atrophy of the brain’s frontal lobes might lead to neurological decline. That might lead to hallucinations and delusions, and also make it problematic to perform basic mental functions like going to the bathroom for physiological needs.
Apart from memory loss, dementia might also cause:
- Problems in finding the right words
- Using the wrong item to perform an activity
- Indifference or impulsiveness
- Balance and concentration difficulties
The symptoms depend on the individual. Unfortunately, they usually get worse over time, which is why you should be realistic about the condition.
2. Show Empathy and Communicate Properly
If you are caring for someone with dementia, always be ready to show empathy. Here is a simple example – the person you are caring for might forget who they are. They might also forget where they are or which year it is. If that happens to you, how would you react? It is as if someone would trap you in an unknown environment, and you have no idea what’s happening. That is exactly what could happen to persons dealing with dementia daily.
Number one priority is for the caregiver to always be supportive and understanding. Don’t criticize or yell at your loved one if they can’t remember you. You should also avoid telling them things directly, since that might cause shock. Instead, try to motivate their brain and give them hints. If you see it’s not helping, go ahead and tell them the truth.
People who are suffering from dementia might also experience difficulties with speaking and understanding spoken words. That is why you want to find the best possible way to convey your message. Is it pointing or dividing the sentences into shorter ones? Try to see how well the person you are caring for understands what you are conveying. Based on that, you can figure out whether you need to change the way of communication or not.
3. Create a Routine
The person dealing with dementia might experience signs of confusion. If you are providing dementia care for someone, you can make things easier for them by creating a routine. By repeating certain activities in specific parts of the day, they might know what to expect. That could make them calmer and happier, at least on their better days.
Here are some tips on how to create a routine:
- An exact time for meals – everyone should have at least three meals a day, and you can consider including some snacks, too. People dealing with dementia should have a healthy diet, which is why you should aim to include plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fatty acids could also be beneficial for the brain, as well as other foods with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Physical exercise – the level of exercise will directly depend on the person’s capabilities. Walking can be a great way of exercising, but any other physical activity counts too, like sweeping the floor. Make sure to pay special attention to the person during the activity since you don’t want anything to go wrong.
- Mental exercise – this is an excellent way to boost brain activity and slow down mental decline. Make sure to work with the patients regularly and focus on improving areas that they could use to improve their overall quality of life.
- Listen to music – experts claim that listening to music, especially classical, can relax you and the person with dementia. Depending on the type of music, it can also trigger some memories, which is another way of mental exercise.
4. Be Ready to Adjust
The previous step mentions creating a routine, but be aware that the condition of the person might change from day to day. That is why you should always be ready to adjust when caring for someone with dementia. It is crucial to keep a realistic approach and understand that nothing is certain. If they don’t feel like performing a crossword, try something else.
You should also be aware that the odds are their condition might not be getting better. If you are caring about your loved one, there might come a time when you should consider contacting a home care agency for assistance. Those people are professionals who could ensure your loved one gets the best possible care at all times.
5. Find Support for Yourself
As a caregiver, you are nursing someone with dementia and providing them help and support. However, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use an occasional comforting word or an opportunity to express your feelings.
Always remember – you can only be ready to care for a loved one if you take care of yourself. You can talk to trustworthy friends and share your concerns. Alternatively, look for online or offline support groups where you can exchange opinions with those in a similar situation.
Even hearing some comforting words can help you get through a rough day and get ready for tomorrow. A huge community is ready to remind you that you are doing an important and great job. That might push you to keep going when a rough patch comes!
Support is crucial during this time with your loved one. After reading this article on the 5 Fundamentals of Caring for Someone with Dementia, talk with one of our caring team members to see how we can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.