Caring for someone with dementia poses both emotional and logistical challenges. A progressive brain disease that causes cognitive impairment, memory loss, and behavioral changes, dementia impacts a person’s ability to communicate, reason, and function independently. If you’re a caregiver, it can be painful to watch your loved one’s health deteriorate, and difficult to understand how to help them.
While there is no cure for dementia, you can improve your loved one’s quality of life through meaningful interactions and compassionate care. Here are some dementia care strategies to help you deal with challenges as they arise.
It can be easy to feel hopeless in the face of dementia, but it’s important to keep a positive attitude when you’re interacting with your loved one. Body language and tone of voice convey a great deal about your feelings, so always try your best to remain gracious and pleasant. Compassion is key; if your loved one is feeling confused or afraid, this may often manifest itself as anger. Don’t engage argumentative behavior, and above all, be as patient as possible.
Deflect and redirect.
Sometimes, your loved one may act aggressive or belligerent. If tensions arise and talk gets heated, a change of environment or a diversion can help them calm down. Always acknowledge their feelings of anger or frustration, then suggest going for a walk outside, or give them a task to distract from the troublesome subject.
When a dementia patient feels as though they no longer have a purpose in life, their symptoms can worsen. To slow the progression of the disease, connect your loved one to meaningful activities that bring them joy. Socializing with friends, spending time in nature, reading a book together, or partaking in a favorite hobby can help bring a sense of significance to their life.
Encourage active participation.
It can be tempting to do things for your loved one, since once-easy tasks may now be extremely challenging to them. However, the best thing you can do is to foster their autonomy by encouraging them to be active participants in their daily life. To support them in their endeavors, break down large undertakings into smaller, step–by-step tasks. Use visual cues, gentle reminders, and assistive devices to help them function independently.
Speak clearly and simply.
It can sometimes be difficult for dementia patients to understand what you’re saying or to focus on your words. Knowing how to talk to someone with dementia can help to ease the stress. To communicate with your loved one, speak slowly and distinctly, using short, simple sentences. Ask questions one at a time and be patient while waiting for answers. While speaking, limit background noise or other distractions that could detract from your interactions.
To provide effective care for your loved one, it’s crucial to learn all you can about the disease. Knowing the signs of dementia can help you understand how to cope with unexpected behavior, what triggers and exacerbates symptoms, and when it’s time to call a doctor. Joining a support group can also give you a much-needed outlet for the emotional stress of being a caregiver.
As your loved one’s condition progresses, there will inevitably come a point where you can’t do it alone. It can be easy to become overwhelmed, and if you’re not taking care of yourself, then you won’t be able to provide effective care for your loved one either. Ask friends and family members for help during difficult patches. Know when to give yourself a break. And consider soliciting assistance from experienced, professional caregivers.
Bella Vista Health Center cares for patients with dementia
If you’re caring for a parent with dementia, Bella Vista Health Center can help alleviate some of your burden. Our skilled nursing facility provides a safe, supportive environment staffed by caring and compassionate professionals. Through rehabilitative services and therapeutic treatments, we encourage your loved one to live independently while providing round-the-clock medical care to meet their needs.
Call (619) 644-1000 to partner with us in helping your loved one live their best life.