Caring for someone with dementia can be a difficult experience, especially when it is a loved one. Coming to terms with their ailing memory along with their sudden changes in mood and memory can be devastating to witness, and can take its toll on anyone tasked with the role of providing care for the individual.
Currently, an estimated 6.2 million Americans aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s-related dementia, with this number projected to grow to 12.7 million by 2050.
This path can often feel very lonely and arduous for the primary caregivers, putting a strain on them physically, emotionally, and financially. This article will seek to provide guidance on how you can offer home care for an elderly relative with dementia.
How to Manage Dementia Behaviors
Personality changes and loss of memory present some of the greatest challenges in caring for someone with dementia. Unfortunately, many of the behavioral changes that occur cannot be eliminated, however, the following strategies can be used to minimize their effect.
Try to remain clear, patient, and understanding in your communications and learn some techniques to help improve conversations with your loved one. Having an understanding of these techniques can facilitate your interactions and keep your bond with each other strong.
Structure and Routine
Feelings of agitation and anxiety can arise in people with dementia when facing new situations or surroundings. Adding structure to their day by following a schedule or routine which avoids too many activities can help minimize such feelings.
Incorporate calming activities at home into the daily routine of your loved one. Too much stimulus can create disorientation and upset so be mindful of loud noises, distractions, and clutter in your environment. Soothing music can help to ease any agitation as well as keeping personal and familiar items close by.
Moderate exercises such as regular walks, seated chair exercises, and dancing can all assist in reducing aggressive behavior and restlessness. Physical exertion during the day can also aid in a better night’s sleep, thereby lowering the risk of wandering in the night.
Avoid food or drink which can be overly stimulating, such as excessive caffeine or sugar. This can also interrupt or prevent sleep adding to irritability during the day. Alcohol intake should also be kept to a minimum as it can cause confusion.
Often people with dementia lose their short-term memory but are still able to recall things from the past. It’s important to stimulate this by talking to your loved one about these memories. Having these conversations can help to reassure them and to put them at ease.
As the stages of dementia progress, you may have concerns about the safety of your loved one. Although you may choose to care for a relative with dementia at home this can become increasingly difficult as the disease progresses especially when you are managing this alone. If you feel you need help caring for your elderly relative there are care homes such as Longhouse which specialize in providing dementia-focused assisted living so you do not have to do it alone.