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How to Care for Family Members with Dementia

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25 Jul 2018 - General

Dementia is hard on everyone, not just the person who has it, but for their family members and caregivers too. Dementia changes the person drastically as it slowly strips them of their personality, and this is something that’s difficult for family members to accept. If someone from your family has dementia, it’s only natural that you want to know what the best way to care for them is, and this is why we’ve prepared these five tips:

Be patient

A thing that takes a lot of time for the rest of the family to accept is that dementia will worsen over time. This is why it’s a good idea to arm yourself with patients and slowly lower the expectations you have from your family members. When you expect too much from them it will make you both feel disappointed and upset, so instead, you should encourage them to help you with the simplest tasks and praise them often. The longer they can do things on their own, the easier it will be for them to cope with the situation too, so let them help you prepare meals, do a bit of gardening, and put on their own clothes for as long as they can.

Ask for help

While it’s important to focus on the person with dementia, you shouldn’t forget about your own health and wellbeing. Taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of a person with dementia, and this sometimes means being able to ask for help. Friends and relatives could be able to give you a hand if you need it, and you could also consider a dementia care facility or perhaps hiring a caregiver. You can even try reaching out to different caregiver support groups because sometimes all it takes for you to feel better is talking to someone who knows what you’re going through.  

Handling agitation

Dementia patients can sometimes become agitated, and you might not always know the reason why. Frustrations or sudden changes in their immediate surroundings can cause dementia patients to become agitated and it’s up to you to help them calm down. Anxiety is best soothed thorough familiarity, so familiar faces, objects, and actions will help the agitated person calm down. Praising their efforts and even the simplest tasks they do will help make them feel appreciated and satisfied, thus reducing stress, anxiety, and agitation.

Learn to distract them

Sometimes the easiest way to calm the person with dementia is to remove them from the environment that’s causing the stress in the first place. When you see that they’re getting upset or angry over something, try distracting them in a gentle way by offering to go for a walk or encouraging them to do something else like play a game with you.

Communicate clearly

As dementia progresses, your loved ones will find it hard to communicate with you and express their thoughts and emotions. This is the time where you have to be intuitive and watch them closely so you can understand what they need. This is also the time when they will have problems understanding what it is you actually want from them. When you ask them a question or ask them to do something, they might not understand what exactly you expect from them. Keep positive attitude and tone of voice, speak in a calm tone and very slowly, and use touch to assure them you’re here and paying attention to them.

The most important thing is to acknowledge the other person and to show them you care for them deeply. Even though seeing someone you love suffering from dementia is difficult, knowing that you were able to help them feel safe and loved at the time where the world has become such a strange and scary place for them should help you feel better too.