Caring for a family member with dementia, whether in a care facility or at home, may seem like a daunting challenge. Dementia changes the way the person remembers, communicates, and behaves. The personality and abilities of the person you once knew may change.
However, with a few adjustments to your mindset and several care strategies in place, you can make the experience as smooth as possible for everyone. Your approach and the environment you cultivate can make a big difference for both you and your loved one.
How to Care for Dementia Patients
1. Understand their behavior
Many caregivers find that the more they understand about the disease, the greater their compassion for the men and women afflicted by the disease grows. When they start to visualize the effects on the brain and perceive the ramifications of the condition, they can’t help but see their family member through a new, tenderhearted lens.
Your first step toward taking care of a dementia patient is to read medical literature about the condition and ask their doctor for recommendations. Learning helps you differentiate between the effects of the disease and the person inside the disease.
2. Adjust your own behavior
As your knowledge about dementia grows, you’ll learn how a positive, affectionate approach is the most constructive way to interact. Adults with dementia are prone to depression and outbursts. Though these situations can be disheartening, you can use the opportunity to practice shifting the focus to something positive instead of reacting negatively.
Distraction and redirection are also tools you want in your arsenal. If your loved one becomes agitated or upset, you can turn their attention to a playing child or an outdoor view. Pay attention to what makes them light up and use those distractions when difficult situations arise.
Your communication patterns can also make a difference. The more you respond with patience, respectfulness, and empathy, the more positive outcomes you’ll enjoy.
3. Control the environment
You can make your experience with your loved one more comfortable by controlling external factors that can upset them or place them in danger. For example, you may want to limit their access to kitchen appliances and exit doors to minimize risk.
It’s also important to keep distractions and disruptive events to a minimum when you’re visiting with a family member with dementia. Having a loud television in the background or being surrounded by large groups of people can make a person feel uncomfortable.
The Family Caregiver Alliance recommends Control recommends reducing noise, clutter, and visitor traffic to avoid overwhelming your loved one. Factors like daily routines, simple activities, and soothing music can also work to your advantage.
4. Build in brain-building activities
Although there is no cure for dementia, you can still do a lot to protect a relative’s brain health. In fact, Daily Caring reminds us that brain-building activities can slow down the progression of the disease, minimize symptoms, and improve overall quality of life.
Daily activities such as exercising, spending time in nature, reading, and working on art projects help to engage their mind and body. You can also help them stay productive by giving them routine tasks like folding laundry or washing dishes.
Another great way to keep their memory alive is to engage in some healthy reminiscing. Adults with dementia may forget what they did 10 minutes ago but they can often recollect stories from their past. Page through scrapbooks and keep a recorder nearby to capture those stories.
5. Arrange a support team
You should not only have a support team for your relative but also a team for yourself. Your loved one’s team may include healthcare providers, nursing home staff and residents, and family.
You may also want to gather your own support team including alternate caretakers, an attorney, family, and a support group. You should surround yourself with people who can help with daily caregiving responsibilities, legal arrangements, and emotional support.
You might also find rewarding benefits from individual or family therapy. Therapy gives you a safe place to vent, receive professional support, and learn how to cope with the effects of dementia.
These tips encompass the five essential keys you need to care for dementia patients. Personal and environmental factors alone can transform your relationship with family members affected by the disease. By taking a proactive caretaking role and learning as much as you can about dementia, you can make the best of your loved one’s future.
To learn more about how to care for dementia patients, contact Rehab Select online or by calling 1-844-734-2200.