July 15, 2021 3 min read
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be stressful, especially over longer periods of time. Here are some tips that may be useful in helping you to cope with their actions and enhance your ability to care for your loved ones.
Different persons are at different stages of dementia and they are likely to require different amounts of help. Providing help according to their level of ability is important. Try not to over-help, or give too little help to the extent whereby they get frustrated. The goal is for them to feel a sense of accomplishment and success that they can still be independent and complete tasks by themselves.
Prepare and set-up the activity for your loved one and give sufficient prompts along the way. For example, put the toothpaste on the toothbrush for them and place it near the sink, or lay their clothes on the bed in the order they would use to put them on. This way, they can remember and brush their teeth by themselves. If they require more help, stand by the side and encourage them, providing step-by-step verbal or physical assistance along the way to guide and motivate them.
Having a daily routine can be comforting to the person with dementia. Having consistency in their day-to-day lives gives them a sense of familiarity and security, preventing them from feeling disoriented and eases tensions. Try not to plan activities that interfere and disrupt the routine.
Remind or assist the patient to the bathroom every 2 hours, have fixed meal and snack times, and try to incorporate their past routines as much as possible such as using the same soap scents. Make sure to establish a healthy routine that can keep both their body and mind active by factoring time to exercise and engage in activities.
One of the most important qualities of being a caregiver is patience. People with dementia get easily agitated and hence proper communication can help to affirm and comfort them, reducing their emotional and mental pressure.
Losing your temper with them is understandable, but maintaining your composure and positivity can help to reassure and calm them down. Try out different ways and methods to calm yourself and your loved one down, and slowly figure out one that works the best. Find out and identify certain triggers, and try to remove or avoid them to prevent outbursts. Be sure to speak simply, ask less open-ended questions, give them time to respond, and be ready to repeat yourself if necessary.
Dementia patients may sometimes wander aimlessly in attempts to fulfil previous obligations such as going to work. At times, they may get lost or lose their memory halfway and not know how to go back home. Therefore, it is important for caregivers to be prepared and know how to deal with such instances in the case that it happens.
One useful resource that caregivers can use is the Dementia Friends Mobile Application. When a person with dementia goes missing, caregivers can easily submit their details on the application and leverage on the community to help keep a lookout for them. Additionally, the application also consolidates information on dementia and caregiving and provides support to them.
Caregivers can also consider purchasing tracking devices so they can easily locate the elderly if they happen to be lost. One tip is to support the elderly from the back by standing 3 to 4 meters away from them when they go out. Only step in and offer help when they start to look disoriented.
Many caregivers often do not recognise signs of stress and burnout in themselves. Taking care of their loved ones with dementia can be very frustrating and this can cause them to become easily agitated and even lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. Having the relevant support is crucial in this case and it is important for caregivers to know that there are many available counselling and support groups for them to seek help from when needed.
Here are some useful links to helpful organisations that provide caregivers with support groups, training classes and helplines. Being able to share your problems with other caregivers and having a good support network is extremely important.
For more information on Dementia, download our free E-book HERE!
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