Caring for someone with dementia
Taking time to care for a loved one who suffers from dementia or a related disease can sometimes pose many challenges. Those who suffer from this type of illness have a biological brain disorder, making it increasingly more difficult for them to remember things, communicate with others and look after themselves. In the worst case, a person living with dementia can lose their entire independence and even their entire identity.
Communicating with someone who has dementia can be difficult but by learning the basics you can improve over time, and your caregiving will become less stressful.
Create a positive mood
Your general attitude and body language convey a lot about how you’re feeling so make sure that your facial expressions and physical touch convey the message you want to get across.
There are many things that can distract someone with dementia so turn off things like the radio and the TV to create a quieter environment. Address him/her by name, identify who you are and your relationship with them and try to keep him/her focused by maintaining eye contact.
Use simple language
You’d be surprised at how much speaking slowly and distinctly can help someone with dementia understand you better. If they do not understand you the first time you ask a question, ask again without becoming impatient. Often, the hardest part of communicating with someone who has dementia can be that you have to repeat yourself more than once until they are able to respond. Using the names of people or places rather than pronouns can help too.
Dementia can cause someone to feel anxious, confused and scared so much so that they might start talking about something that has never happened. Instead of telling them that they’re wrong, comfort and reassure them. When it’s appropriate, using humour can help to lighten situations.
Redirect feelings if things get tough
If the person you’re caring for begins to get agitated, a change in subject or environment might help them to calm down. One good way to do this is to take them on a short walk. More often than not, they will begin to forget what it was that was causing them to be upset.
If you feel unable to handle your situation at any point, places such as Kentish Home care offer emergency respite care for dementia patients that will give both you and your loved one time to rest and recuperate.