Throughout the stages of dementia, all family caregivers will be faced with certain challenges along their caregiving journey. This is not to say that caring for a loved one with dementia isn’t a rewarding experience, but we aren’t given lessons in school about properly caring for and relating to someone with dementia. Not being properly informed about dementia can make it difficult to know what to expect, how to react and how to provide the right level of care.
Caring for a Loved One with Dementia
Dementia caregiving can bring a whirlwind of emotions, and understanding the changes loved ones experience can help you become a more effective caregiver. Here are five things dementia caregivers should keep in mind when assisting their loved ones:
- Learn how to communicate effectively. Personality changes are one of the common symptoms of dementia, and it’s important to find ways to connect to loved ones throughout the stages. Setting a positive tone, reading nonverbal cues, asking simple questions and limiting distractions during visits are a few suggestions for effective communication. It’s also important not to argue with a loved one living with dementia. Understand that their perspective is very real to them and cannot be ‘explained away.’
- Understand where the blame lies. During frustrating moments, remember to not take it out on the individual with dementia. Dementia can alter personalities, making loved ones act in ways far outside of their normal character. In other words, it’s not your loved one being disagreeable with you; the root cause is the dementia.
- Don’t underestimate your loved one. Allow your loved one to remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible. While it’s often easier to simply complete a task for someone rather than watch them struggle, you also want them to feel confident and experience pride when they can do something for themselves.
- Remember, you aren’t perfect. No one is perfect, and there is no perfect dementia caregiver. You’re going to have moments where you feel frustrated, angry, sad, tired – the full range of emotions we mentioned previously. Allow yourself the chance to take a break and attend to your own needs by utilizing respite services. If you aren’t taking proper care of yourself, how can you expect to take care of others?
- Seek the support you need. You are not alone in your caregiving journey, and you should never feel that you are. Joining a dementia caregiver group allows you the opportunity to learn techniques from others, share experiences and simply provides time to express yourself in the company of others who understand what you’re going through. The emotional support, knowledge and advice you’ll receive are critical components in being the best caregiver possible.
American Senior Communities offers a person-centered, wellness-based model of dementia care within our Auguste’s Cottage program and our assisted living memory care apartments throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.