How to Support a Person With Dementia
Dementia is not an easy topic, but, unfortunately, everyone can encounter it. Usually, a person doesn’t even think about it, but at some point, they find their older relative forgetful, unable to understand where he or she is, acting like a child, and overall awkward. And then, the challenges hit.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, it can be pretty easy to overstress. However, there are ways to ease your – and your loved one’s – challenges. In this article, you will find some advice for supporting a person with dementia, including considering a caregiver or doing everything yourself: helping them with daily tasks, eating and drinking, using the toilet, sleeping, washing and bathing.
Read on, take good care of your loved one – but also don’t forget about your own needs.
Don’t Overstress Yourself
You may be experiencing a lot of emotions, from anger to fear and anxiety. However, you should never forget that it’s your loved one who is suffering. It’s their life that has changed drastically. Instead, you should learn more by reading articles on brain health and dementia to understand and support your loved one better.
Consider Hiring a Caregiver
If you have a busy schedule and don’t feel like you can handle the burden of supporting your loved one with dementia, consider hiring a carer or a nurse. They don’t have to stay for 24 hours a day, but simply help with the tasks you cannot do or are unwilling to do. If you have a nurse, she will help your loved one with bathing, eating, drinking, using the toilet, sleeping, and washing. A carer will only help with household tasks: preparing food, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and so on.
Being supportive means being understanding and adaptable. This way you will understand what your loved one needs at the moment and how to react to their behaviour. Sometimes it takes a while to understand what is going on, but remember that people with dementia are still the same people; they need love, respect, and attention just like everyone else.
It’s very important to stay calm when dealing with a person with dementia. Even if they say something offensive or disrespectful, try not to get angry. Remember that they aren’t doing it on purpose; they simply don’t know better. This doesn’t mean that you should let them walk all over you, but that you should speak calmly and explain why something isn’t okay. The same goes for their behaviour: if they get angry or frustrated, stay calm and explain that this is not acceptable behaviour.
Be Attentive to Their Needs
Your loved one may forget to eat or drink, so it’s up to you to remind them. Try not to force them to eat – it’s okay if they don’t want food at some point – but offer them water or juice regularly or even serve it to them. You should also keep an eye on whether they need a wash – if they start to smell or look dirty – as well as make sure they go to the bathroom regularly.
Be Prepared for Mood Swings
People with dementia may get angry or emotional quite easily, so try not to panic when it happens. It may be helpful to keep a diary of their moods so you can see any patterns emerging and thus better predict when they may get upset or stressed out.
Find Activities They Enjoy
Try to find things your loved one enjoys doing and suggest them often. If they like gardening, bring them outside; if they love singing, buy them a karaoke machine; if they enjoy playing cards or board games, play them often; if they like talking to other people, bring them together with friends and relatives and so on. By doing this you will keep them engaged in life and help them maintain an active lifestyle which is beneficial for their health and overall well-being.
Keep Family Ties Strong
Family is very important for people with dementia. After all, this is where they belong and where they feel safe and secure. So keep visiting them often and encourage other family members to visit too. Also invite their friends over: it’s best if you take turns, so each family member visits them once every two weeks or month. If possible, try to invite them out for meals once every couple of months or so – it will give them something to look forward to on their calendar and provide some sense of normalcy in their lives.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
As mentioned above, your loved one may forget about eating and drinking regularly, so try to maintain a healthy diet for them: eat regularly (three times per day) and drink enough water (at least 2 litres per day). This way your loved one will stay healthy. Also try not to smoke around your loved one – if you do smoke already then consider quitting for good because smoking is harmful both for smokers themselves and those surrounding them (including people with dementia).
Taking care of your loved one that suffers from dementia is emotionally and physically challenging. It is okay to ask for help and support from other relatives or hire a caregiver who will share part of your responsibilities. The earlier you learn your loved one is developing dementia, the sooner you can start researching it and discovering ways you can support and take care of your loved family member.
Author Jessica Fernsby is a Content Creator with a great interest in spreading trustworthy and relevant information. She is familiar with the health and wellness niche.