Although caring for a loved one with dementia is a great honor, at times it can also feel stressful, painful, and never ending. Watching a loved one’s memory fade is disheartening, and it’s difficult to see how dementia changes an individual’s behavior as well. They may have less control over their feelings and how they express them, and they may behave in an upsetting or disturbing way. They are more likely to experience sadness, confusion, and frustration. Additionally, they may have low self-esteem because they are being treated differently due to their diagnosis.
3 Stages of Dementia
Mild dementia- A person may experience issues such as remembering names and terms, difficulties with numbers, and remembering new information. They may feel anxiety, sadness, or a loss in interest for social gatherings and activities.
Moderate dementia- Physical functioning, judgment, and sensory processing become affected. Problems occur with personal hygiene and inappropriate language.
Severe dementia- A person may experience issues with eating and swallowing, mobility, memory loss, and bladder or bowel control issues.
Tips for Caring for a Loved One with Dementia
Daily Routine – Since dementia affects a person’s memory, learning and remembering new things can be difficult and may lead to increased feelings of confusion and frustration. Habits built on repetition may be remembered longer, especially in earlier stages of the disease. Having a consistent daily routine can make the day less stressful because familiarity with activities and the times they will happen allows the person to feel more comfortable. Here are a few ways to help build consistency into the day:
- When planning activities, make sure they take place the same time each day.
- Help your loved ones with their to-do list, appointments, and events.
- Keep a routine such as eating, exercising, and bathing at the same time each day.
- Have meals in a familiar place.
- Do simple exercises daily.
Communication – When speaking with a loved one with dementia, it is important to speak calmly, have patience, and be understanding. Listen to their concerns and frustrations, and watch for body language, such as facial expressions or gestures, if verbal expression is challenging for the individual.
Meaningful Engagement – A person living with dementia may become disinterested in friends, family, and activities, so it’s beneficial to keep them focused on meaningful engagement. Meaningful interactions allow the person to have a better mood and improved sleep. Also engaging in physical activity can help decrease boredom and reduce anxiety. Try stimulating activities that will help with emotional connection. Some examples include:
- Doing laundry
- Listening to music
- Enjoying arts and crafts
- Looking at photographs
- Watching favorite shows/movies
Animals are a great way to help reduce stress and enhance well-being for individuals with dementia. Arrange visits with a dog or cat, and encourage the loved one to form a connection with the animal. This is also a great way to spend quality time together.
Practice Self-Care – Caring for a loved one with dementia may feel like it’s consuming your being, and it can feel like a never-ending job. As the senior’s abilities start to deteriorate, a family caregiver might become emotional, overwhelmed, and discouraged. After a period of time, you may even neglect your own well-being and health, leading to depression, stress, or burnout due to the burden of caregiving. It is important not to neglect your own needs. Remember to make time to focus on yourself. Try to stay active and exercise, engage in social activities, spend quality time with your loved ones, and practice relaxation techniques. Also, you don’t have to do it all alone. Accept help from family members, or contact AnswerCare for more assistance.
AnswerCare’s specially trained caregivers are available to help with in-home services for individuals living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. We can assist with personal care, memory care activities, meal preparation, and even setting routines to help establish a consistent and comfortable life for the older adult at home. We’re also here to help family caregivers find the respite they need. Contact us today at 855.213.1511 to learn more about our dementia care in Cleveland or in-home care services in the surrounding areas.