Photo by Arthur Pflueger
There are around 50 million people that have dementia across the world.
This syndrome involves the deterioration of cognitive function as well as motivation, social behavior, and emotional control.
Taking care of someone who has dementia can be incredibly challenging and taxing task.
Let’s take a look at 10 senior caregiving tips for when your loved one is experiencing dementia.
1. Have a Plan For Medical Care
If you are wondering how to care for someone with dementia, one of the first things you should do is create a plan for medical care. You should always be ready for any kind of medical situation to arise while you are caregiving.
Having the contact information for your loved ones primary care physician at hand is important. You also want to get in touch with them so that you can understand what the procedures are for routine visits that your loved one might have. When you talk to the primary care physician, you can also ask any questions that you might have, including the protocol for if you notice COVID-19 symptoms in either your loved one or yourself.
You might also want to consider the senior living options available to you. Take a look at our article outlining the different options for your loved one.
2. Know What to Expect
Dementia can take several forms, but it typically goes through seven common stages. When you are engaging in dementia caregiving, it’s important to know what to expect over time.
In the early stages of dementia, your loved one will still be able to do things like daily tasks, get dressed, and take a shower. However, they may need help remembering when to take medication, remembering certain names and words, and ensuring that they don’t miss appointments. At this stage, it can be difficult to know when to help and when to let them do things on their own.
At this stage, it’s good to create a plan for medical care and also a network of people that can help you.
During the middle stages of dementia, you will likely notice your loved ones condition getting worse. This can be very difficult for them, as they can feel as though their losing independence and identity. At this point, you will be less of a care partner and more of a caregiver.
The late stages of dementia can be the most challenging. At this point, it might be difficult for your loved one to walk and they might not even be able to get out of bed. Because they will not be very mobile, you’ll have to move them often in order to increase blood circulation, keep track of their bathroom visits, clean them, change bedpans and adult diapers, and check for sores.
3. Establish a Daily Routine
When you are providing senior caregiving for dementia, one of the most important things you can do is to set a daily routine. This means that waking up, eating, and sleeping happen at the same time every day. This can help to keep your loved one engaged and busy, which can help to decrease challenging behavioral symptoms and improve their mood.
4. Focus on Meaningful Engagement
It can help to decrease challenging behavioral symptoms and improve the mood and sleep of your loved one for them to be engaged in meaningful tasks and interactions. Stimulating and pleasant activities can help to trigger their memory, engage their senses, and foster emotional connection.
These activities might include singing or dancing, arts and crafts projects, baking, arranging flowers, planting seeds, listening to a podcast or a book, doing laundry, or watching a favorite old TV show.
5. Involve the Person
You’ll want to allow the individual who has dementia to do as much as possible on their own. This can help them to maintain a sense of independence.
6. Limit News Exposure
When you turn on the news these days there is often more bad news and good news. It can be incredibly stressful for even the healthiest person. When a person with dementia watches the news, they might not remember the content but they can remember the feeling they had when they watch it.
For this reason, you want to limit exposure to news that could be panic or anxiety inducing. Instead, watch TV shows or movies that are more lighthearted.
7. Be Flexible
Over the course of the disease, you will likely see your loved one become more and more dependent. In order to avoid getting frustrated, you’ll want to be flexible and be willing to adapt both your expectations and routine as needed.
8. Create a Safe Environment
Since dementia can reduce an individual’s problem-solving skills and judgment, their risk of injury is increased. You’ll want to make adjustments to the home to prevent falls, make sure the water temperature isn’t too hot, take fire safety precaution, and use box on cabinets that contain potentially dangerous things.
9. Stay Calm
One of the most important caregiving tips for dementia is that you should do your best to stay calm. This is because people who have dementia are quite aware of the energy you are giving off and nonverbal cues like body language and tone of voice. It is common for people with dementia to mirror the energy of the people around them, and this can lead to behavioral issues if you are not calm yourself.
10. Remember to Take Care of Yourself
Senior caregiving is incredibly stressful and demanding. When someone you love has dementia and you are tasked with taking care of them, it is crucial that you remember to also take care of yourself.
Practice anxiety and stress reducing methods like exercising, talking with friends, guided meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation.
Is It Time For Your Loved One to Find Senior Caregiving That Suits Their Needs?
At The Retreat at Alameda Senior Living community, there is first-class memory care and assisted living for those that you love. Our community provides a friendly and comfortable environment where residents can stay connected.
Is it time for you and your loved one to explore their senior caregiving options? You can contact us today to schedule an appointment or to ask any questions that you might have.