Dementia care, whether it involves occasional assistance or more time-consuming tasks, can be daunting. At the same time, providing this type of care also has the potential to be a personally rewarding and mutually beneficial experience. One way to reach this point if you’re acting as a family caregiver is to keep the best practices for dementia care discussed below in mind.
1. Embracing EmpathyAs you provide care for a senior loved one with dementia, there will inevitably be times when questions are repeated, moods suddenly change, or names are mixed up or forgotten during conversations. Realize such actions and behaviors are related to the disease and put yourself in your loved one’s shoes. Doing so will reduce frustration on your part and ease tension between you and your loved one. Caring for a senior with dementia can be challenging for family caregivers. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of at-home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
2. Developing a Realistic OutlookLearn as much as you can about your loved one’s type of dementia so you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. If it’s Alzheimer’s, for instance, symptoms tend to get progressively more noticeable over time, although the middle stage of the disease could last for many years. Realize there will be good days and more challenging ones. Success with caregiving typically means keeping your loved one happy and comfortable as much as possible while providing the type of assistance that’s needed.
3. Accepting SupportIt’s okay if you’re not able to handle everything yourself when providing dementia care. This may mean accepting help from family members or friends with things like running errands for your loved one so you can focus more on immediate care needs. Support related to caring for a loved one with dementia can also involve:
- Considering in-home or respite care options when care needs become more time-consuming
- Joining a support group for caregivers
- Actively communicating with other family members so they have a better understanding of what they can do to ease your burden
4. Realizing Dementia Is More Than Just Memory LossWhile most people associate memory loss with dementia, this is just one aspect of most common dementia-related conditions. For instance, if your loved one has frontotemporal dementia, he or she is more likely to undergo personality changes that are more noticeable than memory issues. Some seniors with dementia also experience delusions and hallucinations, while others may have difficulty sleeping through the night or get confused and wander. It can be easier to address situations like these by communicating with your loved one’s doctor so appropriate care plan adjustments can be made.
5. Planning for the FutureThings will inevitably change in the future when it comes to your loved one’s ability to handle daily care needs and make sound decisions. Even if everything seems generally fine and consistent at first, most forms of dementia aren’t predictable, which is why another one of the best practices for dementia care is making plans for the future as soon as possible, which may involve:
- Making appropriate home modifications for safety and convenience
- Discussing care preferences for the later stages of dementia at a time when your loved one can still clearly express his or her wishes
- Planning finances so they’re in order