5 Ways to Care for a Loved One with Dementia

Dementia is a condition that can affect the thinking and memory of an individual. It is common among the elderly and has different stages, from early-onset to late-onset. Although you cannot entirely get rid of the condition, there are various things you can do to care for them and make their life easy and comfortable. The disease progresses at different rates in every person, so it’s important to remain patient and caring throughout your time together. Here are some tips on how you can help your loved one live as happily and healthily as possible.

1. Be Patient

Nothing will test your patience like dementia. This illness progresses at different speeds in every person, so it’s important to remain patient and caring throughout your time together. Be willing to try new strategies and go at their pace, even if it’s slower than you’d like. If you go in expecting smooth sailing and quick fixes, you will likely get frustrated, negatively impacting the support and assistance offered. Start with small tasks appropriate for the level of impairment and build from there. Remember that improvements usually occur only as the disease progresses. Some people might have enough insight to understand what is happening in the early stages. As a result, they might feel embarrassed and, or ashamed. So, there’s little motivation to try to improve any skills they already have. It’s your responsibility to reassure them that it’s okay and that everyone needs some help at times. Even you.

2. Ensure Clear Communicate

Communication is key when it comes to taking care of a loved one. Anxiety, depression, and paranoia are often common among patients and are sometimes difficult to manage. Let them know their feelings are valid, but they don’t need to act on them. Although it’s a pretty challenging conversation to have, it’s necessary. Many people with this condition have trouble finding the right words. Accordingly, conversations can become confusing and frustrating for both parties. Be patient to avoid frustrating them. It’s also how you can help them better understand their surroundings and choices.

3. Help with Daily Activities

As the condition progresses, your loved one might not be able to care for themselves as they used to. This can be incredibly embarrassing for them, so it’s important to help as much as possible. Be sure to assist with things like dressing, washing, and eating as needed. If they can live on their own, it’s also important to offer assistance with bills, shopping, and transportation. This can help make life a little easier for them and can also help to prevent accidents from happening.

4. Encourage Exercise and Activities

There are lots of different ways you can encourage exercise. Exercising plays a key role in boosting their mood and provides ways to release any built-up anxiety or frustrations. Things like puzzles, crosswords, or card games can go a long way in keeping their mind active and engaged. Whenever possible, go on walks together. You could also participate in activities such as gardening or even swimming during warm weather. Use such activities for them to build relationships with friends and family members who are willing to take part. This can be especially important if your loved one is living in a facility and feeling isolated and alone.

These activities can also help to decrease hallucinations and delusions that may occur as the disease progresses. This is a very difficult and challenging time in your life, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. If possible, talk to people in similar situations, as they are able to relate to what you’re going through. There are many different options for assistance, including visiting a senior center, hiring a home health aide, or moving them to an assisted living facility. Before deciding on memory care vs nursing home, it would help if you did enough research to understand the pros and cons of each. Consult an expert if need be. Whatever you decide, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.

5. Provide a Safe Environment

As the disease progresses, it can be challenging for them to feel safe. This can lead to paranoia and anxiety, making life for both of you very difficult. It’s important to provide a safe environment at all times. This includes keeping the lights low at night. Aside from ensuring that the bed is comfortable, keep it away from windows to avoid triggering hallucinations.

Moreover, keep things in their environment as consistent as possible, for instance, furniture and picture placement. This way, you can reduce the risk of injury, which is vital if they have trouble falling or staying asleep. Good nutrition is vital. Therefore, ensure your loved one gets the right amount of nutrients in their diet. Offer preferred foods and snacks; that way, they’ll be excited to eat. It’s how you ensure they don’t miss meals, which can lead to health issues and complications. Be careful not to provide too much sugar, salt, or fat. Instead, opt for healthy and filling foods to lessen their chances of being hungry again soon after eating.

This is a very challenging time in your life, so it’s important to take care of yourself. Talking with a doctor, joining a support group, or attending therapy can help ease any built-up anxiety or frustrations you may have. Moreover, ensure you get enough rest, exercise, sleep, and a balanced diet. Taking care of yourself will help you to better care for your loved one and make the most out of this challenging time in your life.

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