Last Updated on October 5, 2021 by ashley.davis
Many people are under the misconception that dementia is a common part of growing old. But this isn’t the case. Of course, there are many reasons to think that. But this isn’t the case. It’s not actually part and parcel of aging. Thus, you can take care of a dementia patient.
But first, it is important that you consider it a disease. A surprising number of people don’t. They regret it later on when their loved ones develop severe cases of dementia.
So, how can you look after your relatives who suffer from dementia?
Dementia care isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible to care for someone with dementia. While it requires dedication, it’s actually not hard at all once you get the hang of things.
Correct dementia care is the difference between it worsening or stabilizing over time. And everyone wants that, right?
So, what do you do?
Well, as a dementia caregiver, you’ll have to adopt a certain lifestyle to make life easier for the patient. In this blog post, we will provide you with guidelines and tips on how to care for a dementia patient.
Importance of Dementia Care: A Lesson in Proficiency
Dementia care is very important. As mentioned, it is the distinction between a patient’s health worsening or stabilizing. So, it is crucial to ensure that your loved ones get the “right” dementia care.
It is vital that you ensure that you treat the patient with respect and dignity. It can be very frustrating for older people to think that they’re nothing more than a burden for their families.
So, you must ensure that you can care for them in a manner that won’t make them feel so. Remember, dementia care is very challenging, and you must go through it.
Proper dementia care limits the negative connotations of the disease. So, you must ensure that the dementia care you use for your loved one is focused on engagement and stability.
Why Dementia Care Is so Important
Dementia care is a crucial part for caregivers. But what really makes it so important? Here are 5 reasons why dementia care is so important:
The Right Support Can Make a World of Difference
It might seem a little repetitive to you since you’ve probably heard it everywhere. After all, everyone says that proper dementia care can make a massive difference. The truth is, this is a fact when it comes to dealing with dementia. We cannot stress this fact enough. So, it is vital that you get this right from the beginning. Dementia care can dictate how the rest of this journey will be for the family and you.
Form Muscle Memory and Habits Early on
As we all know, when the disease worsens over time, the patient will forget most of the things they know. From memories of loved ones to hobbies, everything will be forgotten. If the patient doesn’t already remember this, they will likely forget everyday activities.
This can be a huge problem. So, the dementia care program must enable your loved ones to develop muscle memory.
Make Life Easier for Patients
If your loved one receives preemptive dementia care from the beginning, then the rest of their journey will be much easier. Dementia care must be implemented as it can affect the trajectory of the disease.
By taking special care during the disease’s early days, you can make life easier for them.
Focus on Time Left with Loved One
Efficient dementia care ensures that your loved one can enjoy the time left. Developing an efficient dementia care plan ensures that a lot of time is spent with family.
Spot the Correct Treatment Earlier
Dementia is different for everyone, and so is its treatment. What works for others may not work for your loved one.
So, the best way to proceed with this disease is to ensure that your loved ones get the correct treatment. There is no other option. You have to perform the necessary trial-and-error to determine the best treatment.
How Should You Care for a Dementia Patient?
Whether it’s the first time you’re dealing with dementia or the second or third time. There are ways in which you can ensure that the dementia patient is doing well.
Before we move on to the tips, let’s talk about the first and foremost thing you should do when it comes to dementia care.
Note that acceptance is important to ensure that this disease does not consume you or the patient.
It is all too easy to fall for the trap and spiral into a state of despair. You need to ensure that your mindset is correct. It is vital that you know exactly what you are dealing with.
While it is true that dementia is unpredictable, your attitude towards it should not be so. You need to ensure that both you and your loved one- the dementia patient- knows what is expected of you.
Developing a can-do attitude is very important. It will help you through the most challenging moments that arise with memory loss. You should know that no matter what happens, your loved one is still there, and they love you as well.
Tips for Helping People with Dementia
Now, without further ado, let’s look at what can be done to care for someone with dementia.
Support Is There for You to Accept
The hardest thing that most dementia caregivers have to accept is that you need as much support. Sure, you aren’t suffering from the disease yourself, but you need to ensure that you’re doing fine as well. If not for yourself- think about your loved one.
The dementia patient needs you at your A-game, and if you’re not able to do so, there will be consequences. Most caregivers think that asking for help is a sign of giving up. That’s not the case, and you should definitely ask for help when you need it.
You must Empathize with the Patient
Dementia caregivers need to be compassionate. You can’t have a short temper, and you can’t be angry at the patient. Of course, this might seem too much for some people, but dementia patients are very sensitive. They need a gentle touch no matter what the situation is.
Patients are prone to becoming confused at even the most mundane thing. Thus, you must maintain your composure with them at all times. You need to imagine yourself in their shoes. Imagine waking up one day with no idea of who you are, where you are, or even when you are.
It’s scary, and that often ends up becoming a reality for most dementia patients. Be kind- that’s all.
You Have to be Realistic
We’ve already talked about this in the sections above, but you must remain grounded. It would help if you were realistic about what this disease is and how it progresses.
Don’t fall for the illusion that your loved ones will get better; they won’t. That’s not how dementia works. You need to make sure that you can care for them without hopes of making them better.
The most you can do is stabilize their condition. In fact, that should be your goal from the beginning. You must stabilize your relative to the point that they have a few good days in a row.
Remember that there’s no cure to dementia and save yourself from any hopes of a miracle happening. It won’t, and you have to accept this before doing anything.
Remember that Dementia Is More than Just Losing Your Memory
People often focus on the memory loss aspect of dementia. In fact, it’s all too easy to focus on this facet and forget what this disease actually is. A person with dementia is facing a neurological decline, and one of these symptoms is memory loss.
Other neurological symptoms will follow as well. For example, you may find that your loved ones have suddenly stopped being the person they once were. Prim and proper individuals may start cursing like sailors. Or a carefree individual becomes paranoid. These are part and parcel of this disease, and you must accept it.
As the disease progresses, your loved one may be unable to move or perform the simplest of activities. It’s all part of the disease, and we advise that you do your research on this, so you’re not caught off guard.
You Need to Plan for The Future
Following the point above, you need to be prepared for the future. Dementia will affect your loved one and your family. So, you must keep track of how it will affect your life and prepare for the disease’s progression.
Of course, every family wants to care for their loved ones themselves. But you need to understand certain things. First of all, no matter how many people are willing to join this journey, be prepared for when you will need to look for professional support.
It would be best if you planned for this. Seniors end up needing memory care services. You need to look at your pocket and decide whether you can support your loved one or not. Then, it would help if you made arrangements for it in advance.
What Should a Dementia Care Plan Consist of?
You and the rest of the dementia support group formed for your loved one must make a plan. No dementia care is effective unless a solid plan is made and implemented.
You must ensure that you take care of everything in this plan. A dementia care plan will address the following issues:
- Toiletry needs
- Eating patterns
- Support needs
- Recreational activities
Please make sure that you’ve got these sorted as this can make a massive difference.
Caregiver Guidelines: Things to Do for Better Care for a Dementia Patient
Now that you know what needs to be done for an effective dementia care plan, here are some guidelines.
Meal planning can be stressful when you’re doing it for a dementia patient. After all, food won’t taste the same to them. They might develop a completely different palate. Maybe you’ll find that they’re not interested in eating anymore.
This can be a problem because this means that the dementia patient is at risk of losing weight. So, it would help if you tracked their diet with great caution. You need to develop recipes or a food plan that they’ll adhere to.
Make sure that the meals for nutritious. Your loved one needs their nutrients now more than ever. Sticking to a healthy, balanced diet is great, and it’s your job to ensure that they adhere to it.
Dementia patients often let their personal hygiene go. It’s usually because they don’t remember or forget certain hygienic practices. It would be best if you reminded them of these things. Ensure that they perform basic tasks like brushing their teeth, taking a bath.
It’s a great idea to develop a regular schedule. Your loved one is already going through a hard time. Feeling clean and attractive can help them significantly.
Dementia patients lose interest in their hobbies or anything around them in general. It doesn’t matter what stage of dementia they’re in. So you need to make sure that they aren’t sitting around doing nothing.
Give them something to do. An old hobby? Or a new one? It doesn’t matter. Creativity can help them and make them feel as though they’re doing something valuable with their time.
There’s a whole host of activities you can choose from. From knitting to painting to playing an instrument. It’s entirely up to you and them. Decide what works best for everyone.
We recommend that you indulge your loved ones by making them do some form of physical exercise. There are plenty of opportunities for them to stay active. You can even do something as a family.
Maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle can improve their health and stabilize the patient in the long run. You’ll have more opportunities to spend time together as well.
Make sure there’s time for them to relax as well. The last thing you want is for your loved one to feel over-exerted or exhausted.
So, maybe plan a few hours where they can relax? Maybe schedule a nap time or something.
And finally, the most important thing to do is spend time and reminisce. As you know, dementia patients struggle with remembering things. This happens in the short and long term.
The best way to ensure that they remember things is by having them recall them. It might be a good idea to pull out old family albums and videos. Remembering who they are, whom they’re surrounded by, and the life they’ve led can be perfect for dementia patients.
We think that it will allow you to spend time as a family as well.
Dementia is complex, and it’s completely understandable if you find yourself overwhelmed. It’s only natural to feel this way. Dementia affects everyone besides the patient.
Still, you can make things better for the patient. As you have seen from this guide, there are plenty of ways to do so. So stay strong, and we’re confident that you can do it.
It’s important to remember why you’re doing this. You’re doing this to ensure that your loved one spends as much time in comfort, around friends and family. If you ask us, this alone makes everything worth it.