Looking after a loved one living with dementia can be challenging – here we outline a few practical tips to help.
Watching someone that you love succumb to dementia, it can feel as though you are losing them a little piece at a time. The condition affects the brain, and as it progresses, it affects the person’s memory, emotions and even character.
It is important to separate the symptoms from the person and to remember your loved one as they were before the condition took hold. At the same time, there are important points to bear in mind that will help both you and your loved one to tackle many of the challenges that living with dementia brings.
Dementia can give rise to challenging behaviour, including angry outbursts and aggression. Always remember that your loved one is not responsible for everything that they say or do, so meet anger and frustration with calmness. Keep your voice soft and gentle to soothe your loved one and reassure them that all is well.
Dementia can lead people to repeat the same sentence over and over or perform the same behaviour repeatedly. Although this can be intensely frustrating, try to keep patient. An effective way of breaking the cycle of repetitive activity is to direct the person to another kind of activity. Try not to lose your patience, but if you feel that you simply cannot cope, walk away for a few minutes to give yourself a break.
Whether you are caring for your parent in your own home, or in theirs, it’s a good idea to arrange for some respite care from time-to-time, to give yourself a break. Many people feel guilty if they take time away from their loved one when in fact, it provides a much-needed break that can be helpful in clearing the mind and dealing with the stress that caring for someone with dementia may create.
Keep your loved one safe
People with dementia have a habit of wandering, and of getting lost. If your loved one shows signs that they might attempt to leave the house, then take sensible safety precautions.
Emergency bracelets are a good idea, as these provide details of your loved one’s name and address in case of an emergency.
Look out for paranoia
Paranoid thoughts often feature strongly in dementia patients, so be prepared for loved ones to express concerns of this nature. Along with agitation, paranoia can be symptomatic of underlying issues, so encourage your loved one to voice their worries, to see if you can put their mind at rest.
Agitation and paranoia require a gentle, soothing approach, so don’t be persuaded to raise your voice or get frustrated. Play calming music, keep noise to a minimum and speak in soft tones.
It can be shocking to hear someone you love use inappropriate language, or display unwanted behaviour. Don’t react if your parent says or does something completely out of the ordinary, and try not to make a big deal out of it. Keep reminding yourself that it is not your loved one behaving in this way, but their condition.
Original Article published by Elder.org