Caregiver’s Guide to Dementia

Approximately 50 million people across the globe suffer from some form of dementia. Another 10 million are diagnosed with these types of conditions each year. Dementia develops in various stages, each one being more severe than the last. Ultimately, it takes a major toll on not only those directly suffering from its effects but their loved ones as well.

If you’re among the many people taking care of a loved one who’s being affected by dementia, understanding the conditions in this category and what being a caregiver entails can help you get through the experience and provide the best possible care for your aging family member. Seeking professional memory care services is an integral part of the process. After all, no one should have to approach a situation like this alone, and we’re well aware that being a caregiver without expert support can be a particularly trying experience. 

Taking a Closer Look at Dementia

As you’re probably aware at this point, dementia is a range of disorders that brings about a gradual decline in a person’s ability to live life as he or she did before the onset of the condition. One of the first and most well-known effects of dementia is its impact on memory. It can cause a person to forget new information even as he or she remembers events that took place decades ago. Over time, your loved one may not be able to remember where he or she lives or even recognize the faces of his or her closest loved ones. That’s only part of the process.

Dementia can also detract from its victims’ ability to speak and think clearly. As the condition progresses, your loved one will reach a point where he or she can’t bathe, dress, eat, or carry out other daily tasks. Dementia patients’ entire worlds become distorted. They may have unexpected outbursts of anger or frustration, and even simple situations can cause them to become upset or fearful. These disorders don’t affect everyone in the same way, but these are a few of the common issues you can expect to face as you’re providing dementia care for an affected loved one. 

Advice for Dealing with Dementia

Taking care of a dementia patient isn’t an innate ability for anyone. If you’re struggling and just don’t know where to begin, you’re certainly not alone. Everyone who’s caring for a loved one with dementia experiences those same uncertainties. Developing the skills and patience to provide this type of care is inevitably a learning experience. Having said that, certain tidbits of advice from caregivers who have been in your shoes can help make the matter a bit simpler. We’ll cover a few of the basics right now. 

  • Listen with More Than Your Ears. Dementia patients may not be able to communicate clearly with words, but they can convey messages in other ways if you know what to look for. If your loved one keeps venturing into the kitchen, it may be a sign that he or she is hungry or thirsty. If he or she repeatedly tries to undress, it could be an indication that a trip to the bathroom is in order. In the event your loved one has tears streaming down his or her cheeks, it may be an appropriate time for a kind word or warm, drawn-out hug. 
  • Keep Things Simple. Keep in mind, dementia affects a person’s cognitive abilities. Your loved one may no longer be able to understand complex verbal communications or even answer open-ended questions. Ask simple questions that require yes or no answers. Use short, straightforward explanations about what you need your loved one to do. Don’t raise your voice or use cold, angry tones, and don’t draw things out more than necessary, either. Don’t be afraid to consult with experienced members of the memory care community for assistance. 
  • Try to Stay Positive. Staying positive in the face of all the challenges of providing care for a dementia patient isn’t easy. That’s especially the case when you and your loved one are equally angry and frustrated. It’s important to understand that dementia sufferers understand your tones and often respond accordingly. Try to remain positive. Keep a smile on your face, and speak with a cheerful, upbeat voice. This could go a long way toward making a dementia patient feel loved and keeping him or her from spiraling into a negative state.

Those are a few of the most common and helpful tips for taking care of a loved one who’s living with dementia. Always remember, help is available for you and your loved one. At Pioneer Place, our mission is to provide loving, experienced care for people with dementia. Our highly trained staff is here to care for your loved one with compassion and understanding through every stage of dementia.

Phone 253-539-3410