Caring for a loved one with dementia can often be as frustrating for you as it is for the person suffering from an impaired ability to think, make decisions or even remember small things. They get easily frustrated trying to communicate their needs and as their caregiver, you can get as easily worried over whether or not you are understanding them. This can lead to further complications and this is why it’s so important to learn a few tips on providing what they need.
Quite often, when someone is suffering from dementia, they are unable to do the simple tasks they once handled routinely with ease. Even eating can become problematic and they are likely to dribble food down their face and onto their clothes. This is often the case when dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s disease where a person loses fine motor movements. Frustration can lead to agitation and that’s what you want to avoid at all costs. It helps to get washable clothing covers, commonly known as an adult bib, where you can easily tell them it’s no problem. They haven’t spotted their clothes, and all is well. Once you learn the things that cause them to become frustrated or agitated, you can take steps to avoid those situations.
This leads to the second most important thing you can do when caring for a loved one with dementia. When you see that they are not in control and are about to become agitated, stay calm. Reassure them that all is well and that it’s something easily fixed. If you get agitated, that will feed their frustration and it can soon get out of control. It is imperative that you maintain your composure at all times so that your loved one doesn’t feel less than normal. There is nothing quite as dehumanizing to a person suffering from dementia and still having enough of their faculties to know that they are unable to do the simple things they once did easily. Sometimes it’s worse asking for help than it is needing that help in the first place, so stay calm and reassure them that all is well.
Finally, it is important to give them simple structure in their life. Stick to a routine so that nothing comes as a surprise. Mealtimes will be at the same time every day and they will have activities planned routinely. For example, after breakfast every day they go out to the patio to watch the birds feeding at the feeders you’ve place around the lawn. Or maybe there’s a time when their favorite game show is on the television or perhaps you walk around the block with them. No matter what it is you do, keep it simple and make it a routine so that they know what to expect at any given moment. The easier and more structured you make their lives, the happier they will be.
One thing you may want to do is find relief for yourself. Get a sitter or perhaps in-home healthcare for a few hours a week so that you can get out as well. There may come a time when more help is needed, especially when a person is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, but for as long as your aging loved one is in your care, these tips should make life better for everyone involved.