When you take care of someone with dementia, you are providing them with the support that they need to cope with their condition. However, you also need support as this can be a huge drain on your resources despite your willingness to be there for them. We have put together this guide to help you manage the situation.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a condition characterized by changes in behavior in the sufferer. They may act repetitively or ask you the same question continuously, having forgotten that it was already asked and answered. They may exhibit restless movements and purposeless pacing or follow you everywhere. The quality of sleep of the person with dementia is degraded and you may have to deal with night-time disruptions of your sleep. They tend to lose interest in activities that absorbed them before.
If possible, try to help the person reduce their intake of nicotine and alcohol. Explain how it can exacerbate their condition. Prepare healthy meals and brain food. Walk with them in two sessions a day to increase the exercise that they get.
You can boost their emotional well-being by maintaining and encouraging a sense of humor. Enjoy experiences together that are spontaneous and in the moment. For example, hold a picnic for lunch in the garden.
Suggest ways that the individual can increase their social circle. But keep these sessions short. Arrange for friends and family to visit.
Use post-it stickers to remind the person of self-care tasks and appointments. Sort their pills into a weekly container that separates doses throughout the day. Discuss with the person and/or family the possibility of setting up a power of attorney.
Help the Dementia Sufferer Retain A Sense Of Individuality
When social outings dwindle and interest in hobbies decreases, the dementia sufferer starts to lose their sense of continuity. Keep things in their room and other areas they frequent as familiar as possible. Try to revive or sustain their favorite activities and relationships. Don’t talk down to them. Ask for their opinions. Respect their privacy.
Don’t Do It Alone
Taking care of someone with dementia can wear you down if you don’t take care of your own health. You need to take an occasional break and have another family member or someone who understands the condition relieve you for a few hours a week. You also need some time in the day to manage your affairs and duties. Getting a helper in can give you some time to yourself and reinvigorate you.
Remember that you also need exercise, healthy meals, and sufficient sleep. When things are tough you may need someone to unburden yourself to. If you don’t have a close personal friend to share your feelings with, see a therapist.
You will need practical assistance from time to time. Know that there are dementia resources for more information and to help you make decisions about their future. If the person’s condition deteriorates, at some point you may have to consider moving them to an institution that is qualified to deal with dementia patients and will give them dignified and compassionate care.
Caring for someone you love who has dementia can be challenging but also rewarding. Make the most of your time with your loved one.