For many family caregivers, taking care of someone with dementia can be a real challenge. Most of the trouble comes from the caregiver not knowing on what to expect from the illness, and how to correctly react towards their loved ones with dementia. This not only causes a strain in their relationship, but it also puts the caregiver at risk of burnout.
There are many ways to care for someone with dementia at home. However, don’t be discouraged at how challenging managing a person with dementia may sound. There are a few ways on how you can prepare yourself to better care for your loved one’s conditions. Here are some examples that would hopefully help you!
1. Have Patience
One of the main challenges of caring for a person with dementia means that you’ll have to deal with their unpredictability – every day! Due to the mental decline caused by the disease, they may suddenly become anxious or aggressive for no particular reason, as well as repeating specific questions or gestures over and over again.
Instead of instinctively tackling the problems on the spot, take a step back and observe their actions for a little bit more. Is there more to the reason why they’re acting this way? Maybe they’re uncomfortable with their current surroundings, surprised by a loud noise, or was given a complicated task to perform. Be patient and figure out the real source of their frustrations, instead of jumping to conclusions.
2. Be Compassionate
Once you’ve figured out on how to care for your loved ones with dementia, it’s often tempting to adopt a forceful stance on their erratic behaviors. However, scolding or arguing a person with dementia will not only make them even further agitated, but you’ll be causing stress to yourself as well when things don’t go the way you’ve planned.
Opt to try a softer approach instead, by speaking them gently about the issue and letting them speak their mind instead of being interrupted. While it might be repetitive and tiresome at times, our loved ones still appreciate the support and understanding that we give them, even if they’re not in the right mental state to acknowledge that.
3. Attend Courses
As a caregiver to your loved ones, rest assured that you’re not the only one facing the issue of caring for someone with dementia. There are many others out there who are going through the same thing and have formed support groups, networks, and even sharing sessions to help each other out with their own care experiences.
With that in mind, why not sign up for a caregiving course or two to equip yourself with the right knowledge to care for those who have dementia? Not only do some of these courses cover methods on managing their behaviors or engaging them with meaningful activities, but they also address your challenges as a caregiver and the importance of self-care.
4. Set A Positive Mood
No one, healthy or not, likes to be placed in a negative environment. Imagine a person with dementia, always at odds with their caregiver. The typical scene we often observe is the constant yells and arguments between the person with dementia and the caregiver. Such an environment is not conducive for easily aggravated dementia patients.
Hence, it’ll help a lot if you, as a caregiver, create and reinforce a positive living environment for your loved one with dementia. Start by decreasing noise and visual distractions around the place, to reduce aggravation. Adopt a calm voice and gentle touch when you’re dealing with the person to establish the normal mode of communication between you and them.
5. Simplify Things
To someone who has dementia, memories that were once familiar to them are now fragmented, causing them to be frequently forgetful or confused. Due to their mental declination, tasks that they once did with ease can soon come across as something complicated. What’s worse is that some of them might not be able to understand and communicate this issue to their caregivers.
It’s best to keep things simple for them. Hand them activities and chores that are easy to carry out and guide them through it, if needed. Give them instructions that are brief yet clear for them to understand. Don’t overwhelm them with new information, as this will only worsen their perception around them and get them agitated.
Hopefully, this article has given you an insight in caring for your loved ones with dementia. It’s important to note that the disease can be a long-term ordeal and often exhausting to deal with, which is why you, as a caregiver, should monitor your mental wellness as well. There’s nothing wrong with taking a short break so you can come back refreshed and be a better caregiver to your loved one.
And if you’re looking for assistance to help you out in ridding your old habits, we have professional counsellors and nutritionists who can be there by your side throughout the journey and talk you through the rough times. Get in touch with one, right here at CaregiverAsia!
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Written by Teo Youliang Hakim
A CaregiverAsia writer, Hakim loves nothing better than to spruce up informative content for the readers, especially if it helps to make the world a better place. Other than that, he also enjoys the occasional chocolate chip cookie or catching reruns of F.R.I.E.N.D.S on the telly!