Learning that your loved one has dementia is frightening. You have to learn how to care for a dementia patient and adapt to a whole new routine.
Many people go through this process, so you’re not alone. There are nearly 10 million new cases of dementia every year.
We want to help you adapt to your new lifestyle change as a caregiver. Read on to learn our top caregiving tips for your elderly loved one.
If your loved one with dementia is still living at home with you, it’s important that you make sure that the home is safe.
Caring for a dementia patient includes making some modifications.
First, consider blocking off stairs. While dementia mainly impacts memory, it also has physical symptoms. People with dementia can also wander, and stairs make that wandering more dangerous than it has to be.
Speaking of wandering, consider adding extra locks to the doors that lead outside. People with dementia are safer indoors, and they may wander in the middle of the night when you’re not there to supervise them.
Add a seat to the shower and consider renovating your shower to a walk-in to make it safer and more accessible. You may also want to add handrails anywhere that your loved one walks.
People with dementia benefit from enrichment. While it may seem like they’re no longer capable of activities, simple activities will keep them stimulated and they may help strengthen your bond.
Consider sensory activities, like playing with clay or “slime” that you’d typically see in classrooms. Again, make sure that you supervise this behavior to keep your loved one safe.
You can use lights and music to activate their other senses. While enrichment won’t stop dementia in its tracks, it may keep your loved one more alert.
Caregiving for a family member is challenging. There will be times that you get angry or frustrated. You may even want to give up.
For the time that you plan on keeping your loved one with you, you’re going to have to practice empathy at all times. Yes, it’s difficult to care for your loved one. They may be downright unpleasant or frustrating sometimes, but this is normal.
When you’re feeling frustrated, take a step back to regroup. Remember that they’re dealing with something challenging and they don’t have any control over their situation. They are more frustrated than you are; they just aren’t able to convey that.
As we mentioned before, the primary symptom of dementia (and the one that most people are aware of) is memory loss. This isn’t the only symptom, however, and it’s important to recognize all of them so you’re able to report on your loved one’s help and so you’re prepared for potential changes.
Even in the early stages of dementia, people will have difficulty organizing things. They will often lose track of their belongings, even if they placed them down recently.
They’ll have a hard time solving simple problems, and they may get frustrated with daily tasks. They’ll struggle with spatial abilities and motor functions.
It’s common for people in the early stages of dementia to struggle to communicate their thoughts. They may not be able to “find” common words and conversations can confuse them.
Dementia often causes mood and personality changes. People with dementia often experience anxiety and depression. They may be easily agitated or paranoid, even amongst people that they love.
It’s not uncommon for people with dementia to go through complete personality shifts. They may go from a happy-go-lucky and cheerful person to someone who displays inappropriate (or even mean) behavior.
By understanding these symptoms, you’ll have an easier time empathizing with your loved one.
As you continue to care for your loved one, there will likely be days when it seems like they’re flourishing. It’s common for people with dementia to have “good days” or even strings of “good days.” During these times, it’s easy to think that you’re loved one is improving.
In reality, dementia is a degenerative disease. It’s terminal, and while there will be good days, there is no healing process. To avoid hurting yourself, you need to remember this and be realistic about your loved one’s condition.
All caregivers will burn out from time to time. Caring for an aging loved one is hard work. Being a caregiver comes with frustration, exhaustion, and heartache.
This is why it’s so important that you take care of yourself as well as your loved one. Make sure that you’re eating well and getting enough exercise. Practice self-care and treat yourself from time to time.
Many caregivers benefit from seeking therapy. Regular therapy sessions will allow you to decompress so you’re able to better care for your loved one (and for yourself).
You’re allowed to take time off from caregiving.
Speaking of taking time off, there will come a time when caregiving at home is no longer the best choice. It’s a tough decision to make, but it might be time to move your loved one into a professional care facility.
In a care facility, your loved one will be in memory care. In memory care, they’ll have full-time supervision, enrichment, and healthcare. You can still visit your loved one and spend time with them, but they’ll be surrounded by professionals who understand dementia.
Many people think that moving their loved one into a care facility means that they failed as a caregiver, but this is far from the truth. Sometimes it’s the best choice for both you and your loved one.
Learning how to care for a dementia patient in your family is tough. You’re swapping roles with your older loved one, and this can take a toll on you and your family.
Being an empathetic caregiver and understanding when your loved one needs more help than you can provide is essential. Sometimes being the best caregiver means letting someone else take over.
If you’re ready to find the perfect care facility for your loved one, we want to help. Choose the compassionate team at Best Nest Senior Advisors to find the perfect match.