According to The Alzheimer’s Association, there are approximately 15 million Americans who are responsible for caring for someone with dementia. Having to tend to people with Alzheimer’s disease or any other type of dementia can be challenging, but there are ways to make managing day-to-day issues easier.
When it comes to catering to a loved one with dementia, you have to know how to deal with their symptoms including memory loss, inability to communicate properly, and frequent disorientation. These mental issues can result in a distressing experience not only for the patient but for their caregiver as well.
As you witness the deterioration of your loved one’s cognitive, physical, and functional abilities, you might also find that your daily tasks will be increasingly demanding. Outlined below are tips that can help you become a better caretaker:
Create a routine.
Even though people with dementia suffer from memory loss, establishing a routine can still help them with their day-to-day life. Creating a daily routine helps reinforce a sense of familiarity in the patient. But you should also be wary about making significant changes to the regimen as it can disorient and confuse them. Should the changes be unavoidable, like, say, introducing a new doctor or switching care settings, you have to give them time to adjust. It’s also important that you implement the changes gradually rather than all at once.
Be smart with your body language.
Your loved one would respond better to body language, facial expression, and tone of voice than your words. It is vital, then, that you maintain eye contact when communicating with them, as well as putting on a smile and making reassuring touches. Doing so will show a sense of compassion. When the patient exhibit problem behaviors, you should be patient and not take them personally. Try your best to be calm and continue validating their feelings.
Build a peaceful environment.
Clutter will do no good to anyone, whether the person has dementia or not. It can only result in sensory overload. For a patient with dementia, a disorganized room will be distressing for them. It’s best to situate them in a room that is as clean and peaceful as possible. It would serve them best to stay in a room with calm and subtle colors. Avoid busy patterns as those can be tough to process. If you’re able, you should also let them listen to soothing music instead of allowing a TV to drone non-stop in the background. As for fragrances, you should diffuse the room with scents like fresh flowers, scented soaps, or anything that can foster a sense of serenity.
Be accepting rather than contradicting.
Instead of arguing with your loved one, try to look for opportunities to agree. For example, if they insist on grabbing the keys, you can alter your answer in a way that sounds like an agreement. Instead of saying no, you can respond by “I’ll make sure to get your keys as soon as we pick it up from the mechanic.”
Caring for a loved one with dementia is tough, but it can also be a rewarding experience. If you need a dementia consultant in Houston that can aid in providing care for your loved one, we offer memory care services that suit your needs.