Providing dementia care for a loved one can feel as complicated as trying to wrap your mind around the laws of physics. It involves attempting to make sense of what seems nonsensical, and reacting in ways that are counterintuitive to everything you’ve learned up to now. Yet with just a few basic tricks in your dementia care toolbox, you can feel more confident and effective in your role, and help the individual you love feel content, accepted, and understood.
How Can I Be a Better Dementia Caregiver?
- Accept your flaws. First and most importantly, extend yourself the grace of being human. There will be plenty of times you wish you had handled a scenario in another way, and that’s ok. Forgive yourself fully, and learn from what happened.
- Let go of reason. With dementia, conventional reasoning and logic are frequently completely unproductive. Rather than engaging in an argument over something you don’t agree on, such as the need to leave for a doctor’s appointment, pivot to using simple, straightforward, and short statements, like: “Let’s take a nice drive.”
- Occasionally, a little white lie is best. With dementia, honesty is simply not always the best policy. It may trigger agitation, confusion, and a meltdown. If the person believes they are an employee of the doctor’s office, play along with this alternate reality, possibly by providing a briefcase and some “paperwork” to take along to the next appointment.
- Leave extra time and space for self-sufficiency. You may find it simpler to take charge of most of the day-to-day responsibilities your loved one can no longer do easily or quickly. Yet, in seeking to reduce the person’s frustration, you may be hampering their sense of self-worth. If getting dressed solo takes twice as long, plan for that additional time so no one feels rushed.
- Simplify questions. It might seem completely reasonable to ask the older adult what they would like for lunch, or what they want to do that evening. However, if the person is not able to articulate an answer, it could lead to frustration that can rapidly escalate. A yes or no question may be more effective: “Would you like an apple?” Or, simply tell the person: “Let’s go for a walk after dinner!”
- Remind yourself that it’s ok to ask for support. Caring for someone who has dementia is not a solo task. Dementia care, especially as the disease progresses, is a 24/7 endeavor, and trying to do it all by yourself is a surefire way to experience burnout. When someone offers a bit of support, take it, and give them specific responsibilities you need help with. If no one offers, do not hesitate to ask.
Can Home Care Help Someone With Dementia?
Definitely! One of the best ways to provide the best care for someone you love with dementia is by partnering with a dementia care expert. At Compassionate Nursing Services, an award-winning provider of at-home care in St. Louis and the nearby communities, our caregivers are fully trained and experienced in creative, effective approaches to dementia care, and we’re here for you with as much or as little support as you need. Contact us at 314-432-4312 and let us know how we can help.