Whether you care for a parent or loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, the right attitude is crucial to success. It begins with educating yourself about dementia and understanding that caring for the loved one does not mean doing it alone. Take advantage of home care services that are available on a regular or as-needed basis. Bring in a professional caregiver to offer their experienced guidance.
In the meantime, here are 5 essential facts to consider when approaching your role of caring for someone with dementia:
1. Accept support from professionals and other caregivers.
Simply put: never be afraid to ask for help. Support groups are available online and offline. They offer caregivers a safe space to vent and discuss their frustrations in a setting of people experiencing the same frustrations. They also allow caregivers to hear what is working for other caregivers and learn about local Alzheimer’s and dementia resources
2. Empathize with the patient.
Care begins with compassion and empathy. This is especially true for dementia caregivers. People with dementia are prone to becoming confused about their surroundings, the time in which they are living, and the people they are around. To become more empathetic, try this exercise: Imagine how you felt the last time you found yourself in an unfamiliar setting, unsure of the entrances and exits, uncertain about what is expected of you. Now add that you are uncertain about your own identity, cannot recall your name, or are seeing people and have no sense of familiarity.
3. Be a realistic caregiver.
Be realistic about what you consider successes during the progression of the disease. Success is ensuring the person you are caring for is as comfortable, happy, and safe as possible. Experienced dementia caregivers will tell you that the person they care for will have good days and bad days. You can do your best to make the most of the good days and the good moments for the person with dementia.
4. Dementia is memory loss and more.
Loss of memory is the classic symptom of dementia. It is also important to know that some types of dementia, particularly frontotemporal dementia and Pick’s disease, manifest as personality changes rather than memory loss. The symptoms depend on the areas of the brain that is affected. Even when memory loss is the most obvious symptom, the person with dementia is experiencing a neurological decline that will lead to other issues. A proper grandmother may begin to curse like a sailor. A trusting gentleman may come to believe that his family is plotting against him. A confident retired schoolteacher may have hallucinations of being the guest lecturer at a symposium. In the latter stages of most types of dementia, patients cannot tend to daily living activities such as dressing and grooming independently. People with dementia can become uncommunicative and more. The more you know about the dementia your loved one is experiencing, the better you can manage yourself as you care for them.
5. Plan for the future.
When caring for someone with dementia, you can count on change. Family caregivers should prepare for the time when their loved one may need professional memory care in a residential setting. This requires financial planning and being aware of care options in your area. The level of care needs will increase, and if you plan for transitions to meet those needs, you and your family will be less stressed.
Professional home care assistants are available to offer daily support in a variety of ways. Take a moment to call Home Care for Adults at (929) 205-5558 and ask questions about the skilled professionals that can work with you to care for your parent or loved one.
Are you caring for a relative with dementia? Anything you’d like to add?
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