Caregiving for someone with dementia can be extremely difficult. According to the Mayo Clinic there are more than 3 million cases a year and the numbers are increasing.
What is Dementia?
Dementia has no boundaries; it can affect people from any walk of life and has been diagnosed in people as young as their 30’s. Our blog about the movie “Still Alice” explains a lot about the disease, including describing Early Onset Dementia (those diagnosed before the age of 65) and how it can affect the quality of life for not only the person diagnosed but those who care for them.
Types of Dementia
There are many types of dementia depending upon the cause. Dementia itself is not actually a disease but a conglomeration of mental and social issues within the brain, interfering with everyday functions and life.
6 Tips for Caregiving for Dementia Patients
- Don’t Do It Alone – people often feel that it is their “duty” to care for their loved one on their own; however, this can end up in caregiver burnout and decline in quality of life for both the caregiver and their loved one. Find professional help and utilize the offers of friends or family to stay with your loved one to allow time for yourself.
- Find Support – there are a number of support groups, both online and in our community, where you can talk with others who are experiencing or have experienced what you are going through. Support groups have their help you cope and share ideas about how to handle common problems in caregiving for dementia patients.
- Communicate Properly – the Family Caregiver Alliance offers advice on how to communicate with a loved one who has dementia. Their mind no longer functions as it used to so it’s important to learn how to communicate with them.
- Notice Trigger Patterns – there is often a pattern of reactions to certain triggers that can cause paranoia, outbursts or anger. Take notice if your loved one has particular times or events that cause certain reactions so that you can learn how to avoid problems as often as possible.
- Keep Food and Drink Nearby – many times when caregiving for dementia patients you will find that they say they’re not hungry or thirsty; their minds may no longer recognize the signs that their body is giving them to recognize that they are hungry or thirsty. Keeping fresh food and drink near them may help.
- Allow for Extra Time for Daily Activities – it’s common for those with dementia to be argumentative when confronted with typical daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating. It’s important that you realize that normal activities will now most likely take longer so plan ahead in order to reduce stress.
The best thing to remember is that you are not alone in this challenge. It’s possible for those with dementia and their caregivers to have a life of quality and happiness at home.
Caregiving for dementia patients is never easy, but we’re here to help!
Photo by Vince Alongi