According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is a general term for any decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with day-to-day-life. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, but the term can include issues as simple as memory loss, too. The World Health Organization reports that 47.5 million people around the world are currently living with dementia, and that number is expected to more than triple by the year 2050. No matter how severe the case of dementia, living with it can pose a challenge. If you have a loved one with dementia, it’s important that you are prepared. We’ve put together a little guidance on how caring for someone with dementia will help your loved ones feel cared for.
It can be difficult, but being understanding toward a loved one with dementia is vital. Chances are that your mom or dad will not be able to do all the things he or she once did. Perhaps you will have to remind him or her of simple things like birthdays or even your name. Be patient and understanding. Your loved one does not want to be a burden to you, so do your best to make sure she does not feel as if she is. If you find yourself getting tense, or you have trouble seeing things from your mom or dad’s perspective, take a break and let someone else take over for a while so your emotions don’t get out of control.
Learn to Communicate
Communicating with someone who has dementia is not always easy. You may not be able to sit down and chat with mom or dad in the same way as you did before she or he started showing dementia symptoms. While you will learn best through experience, we’ve put together a few tips that can make communication a bit easier.
- Set a Positive Mood – Your feelings and body language are very important in improving communication. Do everything you can to make the overall mood a positive one. A positive, encouraging atmosphere will help your mom or dad feel more positive about the interactions that occur.
- Remove Distractions – It can be extra difficult for your mom or dad to communicate if distractions are all around. Turn off the television or radio and make communication the primary goal.
- Keep It Simple – Reduce your reliance on jokes, sarcasm, slang and even pronouns. Make your statements simple and straight to the point. The same is true when asking questions — simple “yes” or “no” questions are best.
- Distract and Redirect (When Necessary) – If the conversation begins to take a negative turn, don’t be afraid to turn the conversation into something new. It may be time to change the subject.
- Reminisce – While your loved one may not always have perfect recall, chances are that reminiscing about the “good ole days” will be appreciated.
Take Care of Yourself Too
Whether you are the primary caregiver, or you are pitching in to help out a little here and there, it is important that you do not get burned out or overwhelmed. Make time to take care of yourself, too. Get a massage, check out the latest movie, or treat yourself to a gourmet latte. The key is to relax and let your mind recover so that you can be at your best to help your loved one when you get back to work.
Remember that when you are working with a loved one with dementia, you are not alone. Help is out there for you and your family; you simply have to ask for it. In many cases, a loved one with dementia may need additional assistance or even full-time care, such as a memory care community or a senior care home. CareChoice LLC offers free one-on-one help in finding the right senior care option for your loved one — including memory care. Check out our website for additional information, or call us at (404) 402-1499 to learn more. We are always here to help you and your family.