When someone is diagnosed with a form of dementia, it often falls on a close family member or friend to step up and take care of him or her. Dementia is a progressive condition without a current cure, and therefore those who suffer from this type of mental deterioration must have care. The family caregiver is often not trained in helping someone with such a serious condition, and therefore much of the learning process for caregiving happens “on the job.” When asked what they wished they had known prior to taking on the task of caring for someone with dementia, family caregivers provided these tips to current or future caregivers.
1.Get your loved one an appointment with medical professional as soon as possible.
It’s very difficult to admit that a loved one may have dementia. Many times, family members of the sufferer will ignore the symptoms or try to brush them off as normal forgetfulness or aging.
If you feel as though your loved one may be experiencing symptoms of dementia, it’s important to get him or her checked by a doctor as soon as possible. Even though there is no cure for dementia, there are still treatments available that can slow the progression of the disease if detected early on.
Additionally, there may be little physical irritations that your loved one is experiencing that could lead to bigger problems later on if they are not taken care of right away. Certain medical infections could progress in someone with dementia if they are not aware that they need to seek medical help due to their deteriorating condition. Be sure to stay on top of the medical health of your loved on if you sense they may be developing dementia.
2. Don’t try to argue with your loved one who suffers from dementia.
It may be frustrating to hear comments and questions from your loved one that may seem out of character or insensitive. However, it’s not worth it to start an argument with them. Many of the things that they say are a product of what their brain is telling them, which may not always be accurate. Any form of correction on your part will just lead to an argument, which can further stress the situation. Instead, work through the confusion with validation therapy. This means coming up with questions that validate their stories, even if the stories are not based in reality.
Redirect your loved one to another activity if necessary, or come up with a way to make them feel more comfortable so that they shift their attention to something more positive.
3. Establish healthy habits early on.
Make sure you are establishing healthy eating and physical activity habits from the beginning of the diagnosis and caregiving. This will help you keep your loved one as healthy as they can be throughout the process, and may even help to slow the progression of the disease.
Keeping the mind active through physical activity is a good way to mitigate the effects of dementia and other health conditions that may develop. Many seniors who suffer from dementia also suffer from depression. Ensuring that your loved one is eating right and getting exercise and fresh air will help ease some of the symptoms of both conditions.
4. Get help when you need it.
It’s usually difficult to ask for help, but caregiving can be extremely stressful. If you are a family caregiver, give yourself permission to ask for help when you need it. Take time for yourself to get rest and do things that make you feel happy and fulfilled. Engage in support groups and consider therapy if you feel that it may help you. There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Inquire into a home health care company if you feel that you may need professional assistance in caregiving for your loved one.
5. Have tough conversations with family and medical professionals.
Tough conversations around end-of-life medical and financial decisions are never easy to have. However, it’s important that you have these discussions early on in a dementia diagnosis before your loved one’s mental state deteriorates. You want to be prepared to deal with any emergency that may arise before you are faced with it. This includes having conversations with medical, financial, and legal professionals to establish Power of Attorney and end-of-life wishes. Being prepared is key when dealing with an unpredictable condition such as dementia.
At the end of the day, caring for a sick loved one is never an easy task, however, there are things that you can do in order to make it more bearable for everyone involved. If you need additional assistance in the short-term or long-term, contact us at 24/7 Nursing Care. Our professional caregivers are trained in how to provide the best quality care and services for your loved one in their own home. Call to schedule a free consultation at (786) 518-3622.
MPH, L. K., Says, A., & Says, L. K. (2015, December 14). 3 Things Alzheimer’s Caregivers Should Know About Better Healthcare. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from http://betterhealthwhileaging.net/3-ways-better-alzheimers-healthcare-for-caregivers/
12 Dementia Care Tips Caregivers Wish They’d Known Sooner. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2017, from http://dailycaring.com/12-dementia-care-tips-caregivers-wish-theyd-known-sooner/