How to care for your loved one with dementia

Dementia is a general term used for a progressive decline in mental abilities rather than any specific illness. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which becomes a medical condition once it becomes severe enough to interfere with the patient’s daily activities.

Damage to the brain cells is the main cause for dementia affecting mainly those aged 60 years as above who tend to be more vulnerable.That said, it can affect anybody due to various factors.

Caring for a loved one with dementia is very challenging, both for families and caregivers. This fact sheet will deal with some specific strategies when caring for a loved one with dementia.

Get support from others

You are not alone there are many support groups, organizations, and caregiver services that you can take help from. Caregivers provide invaluable support with personal care, meal preparation, and medicine reminders. In-home caregivers can be hired from the nursing home or assisted living placement agencies that specialize in dementia care. When you work with reputable nursing home placement services, they will help you to find the best possible facilities for your loved one. They will also provide you with information and resources so that you can make an informed decision.

Some questions to ask a caregiver in an interview should be about their past experience and how they would handle tricky situations like cleaning up or attempting to remove a dirty diaper or brief. You will need a good fit with the patient and the care situation at home.

Interact in a positive mood

Your loved one with dementia will be swayed more by your mood and body language than just words. So create a positive mood by speaking with the patient in a respectful and pleasant manner. Ask simple questions, one at a time, those with yes or no answers will work best. Your facial expression, manner of speaking and a gentle physical touch will convey the feeling of your love and affection.

Create the right environment

When you wish to communicate with your loved one with dementia, limit distractions and outside noise by switching off the TV, drawing the curtains to make the surroundings quiet. Make sure the patient is attentive before you start speaking. Identify yourself by relationship and name and get down to speak with the patient at the same level in order to maintain eye contact.

Safety and convenience

While caring for a loved one with dementia at home, adapt the home environment in such a way to compensate for the changes the brain may go through. For example, make the bedroom an easy and safe place to move around in. Provide lighted pathways and non-slippery passage for the midnight bathroom trips. To avoid confusion, limit the items on the dresser and make the room visually appealing. Make dressing easier by laying down the outfits in the order the patient wants to get dressed.

Self care is equally important

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be an exhausting experience that can easily cause burnouts. It is therefore very important that you take time out to attend to the family, your personal matters and hobbies you usually partake in. Do not reschedule your trips to the gym or dropping kids to school etc. If the burden of care becomes overwhelming, you might have to seek help for yourself.