When it comes to caregiving for a loved one with dementia, it sure would be nice to have a handbook with all the answers, rather than learning through a hit or miss type of approach. The different phases of the disease that have to be worked through cause it to become even more tricky; the moment we start to feel reasonably skilled at handling one phase, we’re on to the next.
- Admit to yourself that you are only human. Being human means being imperfect. Expect that there will be moments you wish you could do over and other moments when you have sufficient patience to make wise decisions. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can; and be sure to set aside time to take care of yourself along the way.
- Redirecting works better than correcting. When someone with dementia is disoriented, using reasoning to try to reorient the individual may end up in disappointment for both of you. As an example, if the individual is looking for a childhood friend, rather than explaining that this friend passed on ten years ago, ask the person to tell you more information about the friend or to describe a fun adventure they shared.
- It is ok to accept alternate realities. As our society has placed a high value on honesty, encouraging a loved one with dementia in something we know to be a lie just goes against our grain. Although, if the older adult truly is convinced he’s the author of the novel you’re reading, it’s often a good plan to simply play along and maintain the peace.
- Be reasonable about both what activities or tasks the senior can and cannot do. Although our temptation may be to take charge and take over everything for an individual with dementia, it’s far better to stop and see what he or she is still able to do independently. Likewise, if the older adult starts to experience agitation over a task, it’s time to step in and assist.
- Doctors can provide better care when you share. Make sure to share everything you’re seeing in your loved one with the physician during medical visits. He or she can only provide the most beneficial treatment plan when all of the details are on the table.
For more helpful tips and insight into providing dementia care, click here.
Above all, it’s important for family members providing dementia care to develop a strong system of support. North River Home Care is available to partner with you in delivering professional dementia and Alzheimer’s care; contact us for more details.