A diagnosis of dementia is both devastating and overwhelming, not just to the patient, but also to family and loved ones. Dementia is a disease that continues to deteriorate the brain, and as such, possesses a wide range of different symptoms as the disease progresses. Many people only associate dementia with memory loss such as repeating one’s self or reverting back in time, but there are so many different types of dementia, the most common type being Alzheimer’s. As dementia affects the brain, dementia can also affect one’s motor skills. This may affect speech, movement, equilibrium, train of thought, concentration, and memory. As dementia progresses the disease can cause random and rapid mood swings, and in some case can even change one’s personality. It can be a lot to handle, which is why in-home care for dementia patients can really help.
As dementia progresses it becomes harder on families and caretakers. Dealing with the realization that their loved one has dementia can be heartbreaking, and it is hard to deal with your own emotions as well as being depended on in everyday tasks. If the emotion is difficult for you to handle alongside caring for your loved one, consider looking into in-home care for dementia patients to help lighten your load.
The most important thing to understand when dealing with dementia is that no matter the circumstance or symptom you’re dealing with, it is dementia that makes your loved one act a certain way and not your loved one. As dementia affects the brain, your loved one is unable to change, so it’s up to you to change your attitude or approach. This may include changing the way you communicate with your loved one.
Dementia patients often take their social cues from you, so it is important to always have a positive attitude and pleasant demeanour. It is important to show patience and understanding towards your loved one as they themselves are often frustrated. If a situation starts to escalate, try and change the subject and steer the conversation back into a positive direction. It is important to try not to argue with someone suffering from dementia. No matter how wrong or ridiculous you think something they are saying may be, we must remember that in their mind it is both very real and very true. If you’re having trouble, try to remove yourself from the situation, making sure the person with dementia is safe, and come back with a fresh perspective.
When communicating with someone who has dementia, try to speak clearly, in short sentences, and using easily recognizable words. Some people with dementia have trouble expressing themselves and simply cannot find the words, so it is okay to prompt them to what you believe they are trying to say. Make sure their focus is on you and you alone as distractions can make communication difficult.
When caring for someone with dementia, it is important to take time for yourself. You are no good to anyone if you are too frustrated and overworked. Caring for a loved one with dementia is not a 9 to 5 job. There is no clock-in or clock-out. If possible, try to work out a care schedule with your family so it is clear who does what and when. Respite programs are invaluable when caring for a loved one with dementia. Care programs such as in-home care for dementia patients allow you to get a well-deserved rest without any worry, as you know your loved one is being taken care of.
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be a thankless job, as dementia patients are not always aware that they need help. It is important to remember that someone with dementia cannot always control their impulses, so never take the things they may say to heart. Just remember, it is the dementia talking. Always seize every opportunity to laugh as it is healing for both you and your loved one. Reminiscing about the good old days or asking about childhood memories is a great way to engage with a loved one who has dementia. Talking about the past is usually easier, as they often revert back into their childhood or early adult life. Being able to tell stories inspires confidence and reassurance for someone living with dementia, and often brings a smile to their faces and brings upon laughter.
Caring for a loved one with dementia is a job and a hard one at that. Make sure you have a support system and take full advantage of all assistance offered by aged care home care packages. Hold on to good times and let go of the bad times. Your love and support are invaluable, and nothing can take away the feeling of satisfaction that comes with helping and caring for a loved one with dementia.