Being the primary caregiver for a loved one can be overwhelming in any situation. However, those providing care for dementia patients report battling sadness and frustration as they watch their loved one begin to decline. It can be heartbreaking when they no longer recognize family and friends or can’t recall major life memories any longer.
These challenges are just scratching the surface of dementia care. Keeping your loved one safe, engaged, and content as their disease progresses can feel like a full-time job. Many caregivers report feeling lonely in their responsibilities, but it’s important to know that the CDC reports more than 16 million Americans provide unpaid dementia care for their loved ones every year. You are not alone!
While many caregivers choose to support their loved one at home for as long as possible, as their disease progresses, it can become increasingly difficult to keep them safe and healthy.
If you feel that you have reached a point where their safety is compromised, help is available. Knowing what to expect throughout the process can be empowering and help you keep your loved one safe, happy, and healthy longer.
Challenging Dementia Behaviors
Over time, dementia can cause personality and memory changes. These usually present some of the most challenges in caring for an elderly loved one with the disease.
Being well-prepared can help you remain calm. These are some of the symptoms to expect:
- Getting lost
- Repetitive speech
- Loss of appetite
Preventing Difficult Dementia Behaviors When Possible
It can be very challenging for loved ones to accept and handle some of these behaviors, but it’s important to remember that the disease is out of your loved one’s control.
However, there are some strategies that can be used to minimize the severity of the behaviors and keep your loved one as safe and content as possible:
Now that your loved one is dealing with dementia, it’s important to practice effective communication to improve conversations and support daily interactions. Limit distractions, speak naturally, and use nonverbal gestures.
Rather than referring to yourself by your relationship (ie. daughter), use your name to introduce yourself. Keep conversations stress free. If browsing old family photo albums, just comment on the photos themselves rather than trying to push them to remember things.
Most importantly, be patient.
Stick to a routine.
Establishing a clear and consistent routine can help your loved one avoid agitation and anxiety. If you must schedule appointments or other events out of the ordinary, limit those to one per day to avoid overwhelm. Plan calming activities designed for dementia patients.
Nurture a calm environment.
Loud, distracting, and cluttered spaces can contribute to agitation and disorientation. Avoid moving furniture, making major changes to the home, or removing familiar objections from the home.
Prioritize physical activity.
Staying active can help your loved one avoid feelings of restlessness, wandering, and even aggressive tendencies. It can also combat insomnia. Walking, swimming, dancing, or senior group exercise classes can be a great way to keep them moving (and social!).
Focus on nutrition.
The food we eat plays a huge role in how we feel throughout the day. This is still true for dementia sufferers. Your loved one may be experiencing decreased appetite and decreased thirst cues, so it’s important to monitor their diet, weight, and hydration to ensure they’re getting proper nutrition. Excess caffeine, sugar, and alcohol can disrupt sleep, increase confusion, and contribute to other health issues. Avoid these altogether, if possible.
It’s important for caregivers to connect with their loved ones while providing them care. Otherwise, burnout can happen much faster. Many people that suffer with dementia can’t remember recent events, but can remember events that happened many years ago in their younger years. Focus on an era they do remember and listen to their stories.
Know Your Limits
As your loved one’s disease progresses, it’s important to know your limits. When their safety becomes a concern or care needs change, it’s good to know the point at which you will need to ask for help.
Whether you need a short break to prevent burnout or are looking for more permanent support, there are a few options available to you:
- Home care aides
- Respite care
- Memory care communities
Home care and respite care are two options that offer you support while you care for your loved one at home.
A memory care community is designed specifically with dementia patients in mind. Staff are specially-trained in communication, activities, and care that promotes safety, contentment, and limits opportunities for extreme behaviors.
Memory Care In Scott Depot
Our Innovations Memory Care Program focuses on treating each resident with deference, dignity, and careful attention. We take a holistic approach that integrates recommendations from each resident’s physician with counsel and direction from our Director of Memory Care, wellness team, residents, and their families.
Superior quality of life is Bellaire at Devonshire’s top priority for our resident family members. Our team members strive to balance the need for assistance with the individual’s desire to remain autonomous.
Our Memory Care residents can enjoy the finest in assisted living thanks to our customized levels of care, available services, focus on health and wellness, and enriching amenities. Residents of Bellaire at Devonshire enjoy greater independence and are able to live life to the fullest.
The focus of our holistic approach to memory care, which we call ENGAGE Living, is:
● Enriching, Nurturing, and Guiding residents to achieve their highest potential every day
● We know from experience that when it comes to memory care, Attitude is everything!
● Innovations residents and team members Grow together while Embracing individuality.
Through experience, we have seen many families caring for loved ones with memory loss and cognitive impairment find that once their loved one is welcomed into a warm and inviting memory care program, loving relationships are often re-established and flourish.
Want to learn more about our innovative approach to memory care? Schedule a visit and talk to our team about your loved one’s specific needs.