Being a caregiver to a loved one is an incredibly rewarding experience, yet it’s also a difficult one. And if your loved one has dementia, caregiving can be even more challenging.
Five tips when providing care for someone with dementia.
1. Be open to new ways of interacting and communicating.
It’s easy to look at a parent or loved one with dementia and see them as they’ve always been. They may look the same, but their behaviors are going to be different and you can’t return them to normal just through sheer willpower.
Taking steps to adjust how you perceive, interact and communicate with your loved one. Being open to seeing them as they are now can help you better engage with them in your day-to-day activities.
2. Take steps to avoid agitation, stress and conflict.
Dementia impairs how effectively the brain handles stress and confusion. As often as possible, help set your loved one up for success by limiting situations that induce confrontation or unnecessary change.
You can accomplish this by maintaining a normal routine as often as possible.
3. Recognize dangerous situations and implement precautions.
Having impaired memory or decision-making can make certain situations unsafe for your loved one.
You, as the caregiver, will need to identify safety issues and be quick to enact solutions. Knowing the danger areas in your loved one’s home and taking steps to make them safer is reccomened.
4. Be proactive rather than reactive
Dementia is progressive, so you’ll want to regularly assess how much support your loved one needs.
If you’re struggling to determine when your loved one needs more care or what more care even looks like, a home safety evaluation can help you assess:
- Your loved one’s risk
- Whether safety concerns exist
- Whether gaps in care exist
- The next steps to take
Managing your parent or loved one’s care comes with many legal, financial and medical matters to navigate. Getting a head start on these can go a long way.
5. Know when to ask for help.
When caring for someone with dementia, it’s easy to let your own physical and mental health slide. But don’t forget about your own self-care.
One of the best things you can do as a caregiver is allow others to help you. Maybe that’s relying on a grocery delivery service or asking a family member to take your loved one to a doctor’s appointment now and then.
Use this time away for yourself, filling it with whatever helps you relax and recharge. Don’t feel guilty about letting the professionals care for your loved one when it’s time.
Big thanks to Katie McCallum at Houston Methodist for this conent.