Dementia is the medical term used to refer to a general decline in an individual’s cognitive function. It usually starts to kick in with aging, coming with different types like Alzheimer’s disease, Frontotemporal Dementia, and Lewy Body Dementia, to name a few. After noticing the onset of its symptoms, a proper diagnosis can be made through a consultation with a neurologist of lets.treat.ms. Once that’s sorted, you come home with a patient needing extra care and attention.
Dementia may cause numerous issues, ranging from memory problems to behavioral changes and impaired decision-making. With this, most dementia patients will need a nurse or a caregiver to assist them in their daily life, on top of their families. It becomes like an inter-connected effort of everyone involved, with the end goal of at least improving the patient’s quality of life.
Caring for a loved one with dementia poses unique challenges. As their cognitive abilities decline, their needs change. You’ll likely feel the emotional weight of seeing someone you care about slip away mentally. However, focusing care on compassion and patience paves the way for meaningful connection even in the late stages. Consider enrolling your loved one in therapy for dementia patients to help slow progression.
If you have a loved one who has recently been diagnosed with dementia, this read is for you. This will provide valuable tips on how to take care of and walk along this journey of a patient going through dementia.
Undergo Dementia Care Training
Health workers like nurses and caregivers already have enough knowledge and skills to care for all sorts of patients. Some of them specialize in taking care of patients with dementia. However, this isn’t to say that only the carers should level up their skills and knowledge. Family members of dementia patients may find dementia care training helpful, so they can also take an active role in giving the best care possible to their loved ones.
Consider enrolling in dementia care training or workshops. These provide invaluable hands-on guidance in communication techniques, managing challenging behaviors and creating meaningful activities. They cover coping strategies for caregivers, too. Investing time to sharpen your caregiving skills benefits you both.
Caring for dementia patients can be tough, given all the emotions and challenges relating to the patient’s mood and memory. It pays to be backed up with at least a few basics. There are many dementia courses you can read from or train with online, so go ahead and sign up for one.
Eat Together As A Family
Another dire effect of dementia is when the patient loses their appetite. This should not be neglected as older people need healthy, balanced meals just as much as younger ones. To encourage them to eat, schedule regular lunches or dinners together as a family. Also, sharing a meal helps preserve their sense of normalcy, belonging, and simple joy.
Take them out to cafes, restaurants, or wherever it is you’ll be having your family get-together. Doing this doesn’t just get them to eat. It also makes them feel like they’re still involved and part of their family’s lives. They’re not as lonely as they think they are, after all.
As their condition progresses, you may need to adapt how you eat together – perhaps with finger foods or using adaptive cutlery and plates. But gathering around the kitchen or dining table nourishes more than just the body – it feeds the soul.
Set A Positive Mood When You Interact
Taking care of a dementia patient can take a toll not just on your physical strength but even on your relationship as a family. Whatever the situation, it is best not to show some negative emotions to the patient. Whenever you face them, make sure to put up a positive front.
Start by speaking to your loved one respectfully and lovingly. This helps foster the thought in their minds that your affection for them is still there. Sometimes, they may be challenging to deal with, but your love for them motivates you to be understanding.
Smile, make eye contact, and speak warmly, unrushed. Limit distractions to focus entirely on them in a one-on-one connection. Give encouraging cues like nodding to support their attempts at conversation.
Approach tasks together with lightness and positivity, too. Say things like “Let’s get you freshened up to feel nice and comfortable now” rather than “It’s time for your bath.” How you frame activities makes a difference.
Remember that many dementia patients have no control over what’s going on in their minds and bodies. They’re also having difficulty understanding the changes in their body. Hence, every bit of love and encouragement they get from their family members and carers makes a huge difference in their overall quality of life.
Offer To Help With Everyday Tasks
Now that the mental and emotional facets have been covered let’s touch on their physical and cognitive abilities. The mental decline dementia patients experience also makes it extra challenging for them to continue their day-to-day activities. Whenever you can, offer to help them complete their tasks.
However, that doesn’t mean you’ll do everything entirely for them. Don’t treat the patient like a baby, or else they’ll get used to having someone do everything for them. Doing so can only make their cognitive and physical abilities decline faster. A better approach is offering help, but you should do those daily tasks together.
A few examples include the following:
- Accompanying them to the supermarket for their groceries;
- Taking the dog for a walk, so the patient can meet other people, talk, and have social interactions while having that daily half-hour daily exercise requirement;
- Laying the table and setting it for meals;
- Gardening, if this is a hobby they’ve learned to love.
This list could differ depending on the daily schedule of the dementia patient. Sit down, and discuss what areas you can offer your help with.
Seeing the bigger picture and considering the tips above show that caring for a patient with dementia takes a lot of patience and understanding. Their moods will be unpredictable, and they might not be able to function well to complete their day-to-day activities. But, when they’re that dear to you, caring for them means showing them how much you love them. Above all, dementia patient needs to feel acceptance and belongingness as they go through this life-changing condition. Therefore, it is up to you to show them that they are valued and that no disease can affect your love towards them.