Caregiving is one of the most challenging tasks and more so if you are taking care of someone suffering from dementia. In this case, the physical, emotional, and mental turmoil multiplies to manifolds. Moreover, as there is no known cure for this mental health condition, your role as a caregiver becomes even more substantial. Overwhelming as it sounds, it can even make you fall into the trap of caregiver burnout.
However, with certain easy tips and tricks, you can make it easy for both of you. Here is your comprehensive caregiving guide to caring for someone with dementia:
Table of Contents
Understand their condition
Unless you know about their condition, you cannot help them out? To make sure you offer good care to your loved one with dementia, first understand dementia.
It is a neurodegenerative brain disorder characterized by loss of memory, problem-solving skills, language, and thinking abilities so much so that they interfere with regular life. The symptoms include loss of thinking abilities, limited social skills, and forgetfulness.
To understand more about the extent of disorder in your loved one, talk to their doctor. Understand the triggers and management hacks for difficult situations.
Be affectionate towards them
Anxiousness and confusion accompany people with dementia 24×7. They are always unsure of themselves. They may ask you about things that never really happened. In this case, instead of telling them that they are wrong, offer them comfort and reassurance. Extend your comfort and support with gestures like hugging them and showing that you care.
Also, your loved one may or may not recognize you due to their condition. In this case, do not hesitate in reintroducing yourself multiple times.
Try to distract them
People with dementia lose their temper within a blink of an eye. If you feel that they are getting frustrated over something, distract them by changing the subject. Engage them in a conversation, turn the music on, change the TV channel, or do anything that could distract them and shift their focus entirely.
Do not ask them questions about immediate past
Generally, people with dementia tend to forget about the immediate past, while they duly remember everything about the distant past. Asking them questions about the immediate past, even about anything that happened an hour ago, will agitate and confuse them. Hence, avoid asking them anything about the immediate past. Instead, you can ask them questions about the distant past and engage them in a joyful conversation of the good ol’ days.
Put logics aside
People with dementia lose their sense of judgment, and so, expecting logic from them will be very unfair. Instead of hunting for logic or reasons, agree with them, and convey reassurance. This will help in boosting their self-esteem.
Communicating with care recipients is important for caregivers, but if the recipient is someone with dementia, things get complicated.
Simplify your communication with the recipient by keeping your message simple, i.e. speak clearly. Use small sentences and easy to understand words. Speak slowly. Monitor your tone while speaking as raising your voice can agitate them. If they don’t understand, repeat in the same tone.
Also, refrain from using pronouns, instead use the names of people to make them understand without much struggle.
Use night lights
The majority of people having moderate or severe dementia get agitated in the dark. Dark rooms, sundowning, and nights add to their insecurity, agitation, and confusion. If your loved one too gets agitated in the lack of lights, use nightlights throughout your house.
Also, use bright lights on the staircase as people with dementia tend to lose their visual perception, and chances of their fall increase.
According to numbers, more than 16 million Americans are offering their care to their loved ones with dementia. And so, you are not alone in this. Take a cue from the tips mentioned above and simplify life for yourself, as well as for your loved one with dementia and say goodbye to caregiver burnout.