Dementia is an umbrella term that includes diseases that cause mental decline that affects people’s ability to do everyday tasks and care for themselves. Even though there are several types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common one and it accounts for somewhere between 60 to 80% of all dementia cases. Of course, Alzheimer’s is hard on the sufferer, but it also affects the patient’s family and friends because they are losing a partner, parent or a companion to a disease that can’t be stopped. Also, most people with dementia need special care that can create quite a disturbance in their family’s life and budget. However, there are some tips that can make the care process a bit easier on everyone.
Dementia causes the sufferer to exhibit all sorts of problematic and dangerous behaviors. However, you must be objective when classifying these actions—not all are actually problematic even though they might seem like that to you. Sure, some actions can be quite uncomfortable to witness or be quite disruptive but aren’t harmful in their core. So, make sure to avoid correcting and scolding these behaviors, otherwise, you’re risking a serious escalation. For instance, if your loved one wants to rearrange their closet over and over again, let them! Protect them from harm and give them the freedom to do what makes them happy as long as it’s safe.
Many dementia sufferers are triggered by certain situations, noises or sights over and over again, and noting these unpleasant elements can help you prevent dementia episodes. Try to make a mental note of the situation that triggered a certain behavior or note the time of the day that might be especially difficult for your loved one. Some patients react badly to shower-times while some exhibit worsening of the symptoms in the evening. Some seasons can also be more difficult for dementia sufferers. For instance, less sunny days and nights that last longer can affect patients.
People with dementia usually lose the ability to reason, so the more you try to explain something to them, the more agitated they (and you) will become. However, once you understand that they are not being stubborn, but their disease is preventing them from understanding, you’ll both be happier. Try to tell your loved one you understand, care and want to help!
Know Your Limits
Taking care of people with extremely difficult cases of dementia can be very demanding and require a lot of experience, dedication, and knowledge. That’s why some people choose to provide their sick family members with proper dementia care around-the-clock in one of the dementia sufferers’ communities. These complexes offer professional care, an opportunity for people to socialize with their peers and lead a safe and happy life! All sorts of hobbies, activities, and events are held there every day to keep them engaged, healthy and productive. Oftentimes, these communities are what’s best for both the dementia sufferer and their family.
Exercise Your Patience
If you choose to totally take over the care for your affected loved one, make sure to be quite patient and calm. Most dementia sufferers often have stronger responses to body language and tone and volume of the voice than to actual words you say, so try to keep a smile, have a gentle touch and use eye contact. These behaviors will reassure your loved one and show your compassion. Also, keep in mind that they are not being problematic to spite you. Don’t take their behavior personally and stay calm and patient.
Try to Evoke Pleasant Memories
Many dementia sufferers have great responses to certain stimuli and situations. For instance, by giving them their favorite food and drink, playing their favorite song or movie, showing them certain photos and exposing them to some textures and smells can evoke positive feelings. Always be prepared and try to keep these positive triggers at hand, so you can grab them whenever you need them.
Proper care mixed with proper medication can really do wonders for dementia patients. So, make sure to follow these tips, be patient, caring and understanding and your affected loved one will have a much happier and healthier life under your watchful eye. And, when things get too much for you, there are always professionals who will take over and continue where you stopped!