If you’re the primary caregiver for someone who has been diagnosed with dementia, it is important to be aware of your loved one’s needs and how they might change over time. It can also help to know what particular things your loved one may need from you during this difficult time.
The following are 15 tips for taking care of a parent with dementia at home:
1. Get Organized
One of the most important things you can do as a caregiver is to get organized. This means creating a plan of action and keeping track of important information, such as your loved one’s doctor’s appointments and medication schedule.
2. Talk to Your Parent’s Doctor
It is important to keep your parent’s doctor in the loop, especially as the disease progresses. Ask them any questions you may have and find out what specific symptoms to look out for.
3. Create a Safe Environment
One of the biggest concerns caregivers have is ensuring their loved one’s safety. Make sure to remove any potential hazards from homes, such as loose rugs or electrical cords. It’s also a good idea to install handrails in the bathrooms and to have a medical alert system set up.
5. Create a Routine
Creating a routine can be very helpful for caregivers of loved ones with dementia. It can help to make their day more predictable and structured, which can be comforting for them. Try to stick to a schedule as much as possible, with regular mealtimes and bedtimes.
6. Reduce Your Stress Levels
Caregiver stress can take a toll on both your physical and mental health. Make sure to take time for yourself, whether that means taking a relaxing bath or reading a book. In addition, try to enlist the help of friends and family members when possible. You can also hire a home health aide to help relieve some burden.
7. Be Patient
Dementia can cause a loved one to act out of character or become agitated quickly. It is important to be patient with them and understand that they may not be able to control their emotions or actions.
8. Avoid Arguments
It is natural for caregivers to want to protect their loved ones, but getting into arguments with them will only result in frustration on both sides. It is important to pick your battles and to try to diffuse any tense situations calmly.
9. Stimulate Their Senses
Dementia can cause a loss of interest in the world around them. One way to help combat this is to stimulate your loved one’s senses. This can be done by playing music, reading to them, or taking them for walks outside.
10. Simplify Tasks
Dementia can cause a loved one to lose their ability to concentrate and remember things. Try to simplify tasks as much as possible, such as breaking down chores into smaller steps or providing written instructions.
11. Be Aware of Their Moods
Dementia can cause mood swings in loved ones, so it is important to be aware of their moods and to try to avoid triggering any negative emotions.
12. Encourage Them to Socialize
One of the side effects of dementia is a loss of interest in socializing with others. However, it is still important for your loved one to interact with others, whether that means joining a social club or going out for coffee with friends.
13. Help Them Stay Connected
With technology becoming more and more prevalent in society, there are many ways caregivers can help their loved ones stay connected. This might include using Skype or FaceTime to video chat with far-away family members or setting up a Facebook page to share photos and updates.
14. Keep Their Mind Active
It is important to keep your loved one’s mind active, as this can help to slow the progression of dementia. Try doing puzzles or brain teasers together, reading books, or working on craft projects.
15. Seek Support
Caregiving can be a difficult and isolating experience. It is important to seek out support from others, whether that means joining a caregiver support group or talking to a therapist. There are also many online resources available for caregivers of loved ones with dementia.
Caregivers of loved ones with dementia often feel overwhelmed and isolated. However, by following the tips in this article, you can make the process a little easier. Be patient with your loved ones, try to reduce your stress levels, and be aware of their moods. Most importantly, seek out support from others who are going through the same thing. There is strength in numbers!