How To Look After Someone With Dementia
Taking care of people with dementia is a daunting task that requires full engagement and dedication because they will call on your support at every turn. However, you can make the work easier by taking the time to understand them and know the different dimensions of this condition. It also helps to be positive and cheerful to make the experience easy for yourself and the patient.
Learn to be patient
Caring for a dementia patient requires you to build a personal relationship with the patient. Start building the relationship by showing empathy and compassion towards the patient. Further, be patient with them because they are bound to be confused and may lose their memory from time to time. Be considerate when handling them during such situations to avoid exacerbating their disorientation and anxiety. Sometimes, you will need to do things that help them calm down, such as singing a song or acting out to fulfil their expectations to keep them calm, so just be as patient as you can when they start to lose it.
Understand all of their symptoms
When dealing with a dementia patient, you need to be knowledgeable about the condition because that will empower you to be in a position of control of the different situations that emerge during care. Even though most people associate dementia with memory loss, there are other manifestations of the disease. Some of the symptoms include a complete change of personality and other issues related to neurological and cognitive decline. Other manifestations include hallucinations and delusions, which can cause significant tensions between the patient and the caregiver or other members of the family. Understanding the patient will help you overcome challenges and enable you to provide quality care.
Keep communication open
Always communicate with the patient by sharing experiences and interests. As the condition progresses, keep track of the patient’s cognitive capability and engage them in ways that fully utilize these abilities. For instance, if the patient has lost the ability to read but can still hear, provide them with audio of their favourite books and stories. Similarly, if they are no longer able to recognize relatives, inform them when their grandson visits explaining to them who they are and the familial relationship. If you are honest with them and communicate with them effectively, you will find that they feel a lot more settled with you and will be less likely to get frustrated in your presence.
Get extra help if you can
Sometimes caring for dementia patients can be overwhelming even for the most energetic and enlightened carers. Seek support from both professional service providers and support groups. Support groups are networks of caregivers who come together to share resources and experiences and encourage each other. Meanwhile, professional services are organizations that provide care that is beyond the capacity of untrained caregivers or require specialized interventions that may not be available at home. Moreover, you should be prepared for the inevitable situation where the patient will need professional care either through regular visits or transfer to an aged facility such as Kew Gardens Aged Care. Make contingency plans such as exploring the appropriate care options and retrieving their insurance documents. Reach out to professional providers to assess the condition so that you can plan for professional memory support and transitions in advance.
Try to make things easy
Dementia is a condition that makes a patient’s brain deteriorate as the disease progresses to advanced levels. Therefore, make an effort to improve the patient’s quality of life through actions that make them feel safe, happy, and relaxed. Try to make it easy for them even on days when they are in a bad mood. Cheer up the patient even when they lose the capacity to handle activities of daily living and look helpless and miserable.
Looking after loved ones with dementia is a challenging task that exhausts the caregiver mentally and physically. However, with understanding and empathy, you can make it easy for the patient to cope and reduce the tensions that may result from misunderstandings. Finally, it helps to network with others who are in a similar situation or are trained professionals, so don’t feel too proud to reach out.