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10 Tips for caregivers while caring for a loved one with dementia

March 21, 2023

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Caring for a dementia patient presents numerous challenges that can be quite demanding. Dementia encompasses a range of neurological disorders that progressively affect the brain's functioning. The changes in the brain lead to the malfunctioning and eventual demise of nerve cells. Consequently, patients lose their capacity to recall and think at levels essential for their daily activities. While researchers have associated certain forms of dementia with specific brain changes, the root causes behind dementia remain largely unidentified.

When undertaking the responsibility of caring for a dementia patient, it's imperative to acquaint oneself with the distinct types of dementia. The most prevalent variant is Alzheimer's disease. According to data from the Alzheimer's Association, roughly 6.5 million individuals in the United States aged 65 and above currently contend with this condition. If no significant medical advancements occur, this number might escalate to 13.8million by 2060. Comparable to various forms of dementia, this ailment is generally linked to the accumulation of particular proteins within the brain and the subsequent weakening of nerve cell connections.

Guiding a Dementia Patient's Care at Home

The trials encountered by families engaged in the care of dementia patients often elicit feelings of frustration, perplexity, and sorrow. This prompts the question: How can we alleviate this burden? What strategies can be adopted at home to ensure the tranquility and safety of our cherished ones? Here are ten things to consider to assist families in their journey of caring for their loved one with dementia.

1. Avoid Disputes - Dementia patients lack the capacity to reason and deliberate as we do. Engaging in arguments only serves to distress them. If they express a desire to travel, it's advisable not to explain why it's not possible. Instead, offer an excuse and divert their focus toward an activity.

2. Foster Autonomy - Depending on the stage of dementia, many patients can execute daily tasks independently. Encouraging this self-sufficiency is crucial.

3. Establish a Secure Environment - Dementia patients tend to wander and be forgetful. Ensuring that they are not using stove gas top alone or using an location device (i.e. air tag) to monitor their whereabouts can help you ensure their safety.

4. Regulate Daytime Napping - Limit extended or multiple naps during the day to prevent disrupting the patient's internal body clock. Many dementia patients experience irregular sleep patterns, resulting in daytime fatigue and nocturnal restlessness. To counter this, avoid naps following lunch, thereby reducing the likelihood of nighttime wandering.

5. Establish a Routine - Structure is pivotal for individuals with dementia. A planned schedule reduces the time spent pondering activities and enhances opportunities for meaningful and enjoyable engagements.

6. Simplify Mealtime - Though seemingly straightforward, mealtime can be overwhelming for dementia patients due to shifts in spatial awareness, visual acuity, attention span, and temperature sensitivity. Proactive measures like turning off the television to create a quite space can help the caregiver and loved one get through meal time a little bit easier.

7. Grasp Sun Downing - Sun downing refers to a phenomenon experienced by individuals with dementia, typically during the transition from day to night. To mitigate sun downing, adhering to the patient's routine is crucial, along with providing engaging activities like board games, puzzles, and tasks.

8. Embrace Music - For those dementia patients still capable of communication, discovering the music they enjoyed in their youth can be immensely meaningful.

9. Attend to Your Well-being - You can't take good care of your loved one if you are not caring for yourself. Create space for yourself to continue to pursue a hobby you enjoy or even to just get out of the house for an 1 or 2 can have a meaningful impact on your well being.

10. Be Resilient to Emotional Upsets - As dementia advances, memory lapses become more pronounced, potentially leading the patient to forget familiar individuals, including caregivers.

Prema at Ashton Hills has a dedicate Memory Care community in Covington, Georgia. Our trained and professional care team would be happy to assist you with any questions you may have. Call us today!