Caring for someone with dementia can be challenging. You may feel overwhelmed, alone, sad, or unsure about the future. You may wonder, “How many more memories will be lost? How much will this person change today?” Most distressing can be having to learn how to interact with a loved one whose cognitive decline results in erratic behavior and personality changes.
Being a caregiver for a loved one with dementia is an arduous task – and often a thankless one.
The typical, overarching goal in caring for a loved one with dementia is to keep the individual calm, safe, and as active as possible. While caring for someone with dementia can be frustrating or sad at times, try to remember that the person suffering from dementia has no control over his or her symptoms. While there are plenty of books and online resources to assist dementia caregivers, the following is a quick list of our most critical care tips.
- Set realistic goals.
Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Prioritize, make lists, and establish a daily routine. If unnecessary requests begin to feel draining, like hosting holiday meals, or volunteering for something, feel free to say no.
- Accept help.
Create a list of ways that others can help you, and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do. A friend may be willing to take your loved one on a walk once or twice a week; a family member may be able to pick up your groceries or cook for you or your loved one with dementia.
- Keep your loved one safe.
- Label cabinets and doors to help your loved one find things easily.
- Secure medicines, cleaning or other toxic products, sharp or dangerous items.
- Prevent falls by keeping floors clear, keeping canes or walkers nearby, and having the home well-lit.
- Put non-skid pads on stairs, install grab bars in the bathroom, secure hand-rails on stairs, and use a bath chair for bathing.
- Have your loved one wear an ID bracelet or write name and phone numbers in clothing.
- Tell neighbors if your loved one has wandering behavior, and make sure they have your phone number.
- Connect with other caregivers.
A support group can provide validation and encouragement, as well as problem- solving strategies for difficult situations. People in support groups understand what you may be going through. A support group can also be a good place to create meaningful friendships.
- Work on communication.
- Avoid speaking to your loved one like a child.
- Limit distractions. Turn TVs, phones, and other devices down or off.
- Approach your loved one at eye-level to make eye contact when possible.
- Speak slowly and calmly, being aware that your body language can change your loved one’s mood.
- Practice good listening skills, giving your loved one plenty of time to respond.
- Don’t interrupt your loved one, but let them interrupt you – they might forget what they are trying to say.
- Rely on Respite Care
Professional caregivers can come to the home to provide companionship and aid services for your loved one with dementia. Taking a break can be one of the best things you do for yourself — as well as the person you’re caring for. Dimensions Home Health Care is a trusted provider of Dementia Care in Gurnee, Illinois and offers short-term or long-term respite care. We can assist you and your loved one in establishing a daily routine, providing assistance with grooming, meal preparation, light housework, and companionship.
At Dimensions it is our goal to create a better life for our patients including seniors who have dementia. When you have support, you provide better care to your loved one. We are happy to be a part of your care team, and we’re here to support you. To learn more about respite care, skilled nursing, or in-home health care, give us a call at 847-360-7660.