Things to Remember if You Love Someone with Dementia
You Are Not Alone
If you care for a loved one who has dementia, you are not alone. Over 15 million Americans care for a family member stricken with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The caregivers of those who suffer with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease have a stressful task.
There Are Rewards
As overwhelming as it may seem, if you love someone with dementia, caring for them can also bring joy into your life. Your job can be extremely rewarding by simply remembering a few simple things.
With the progression of the disease, it may be difficult to remember that your loved one is still “in there”. But they are. Don’t lose sight of that. It can be frustrating that the dementia patient is unable to communicate their thoughts or possibly even remember your face.
Look On The Bright Side
- Be prepared that, eventually, they will lose their independence and become dependent more and more on the help of others. In the meantime, enjoy whatever cognizance they retain and try to work with it in positive ways.
- If verbal expression is no longer an option, use every avenue of communication at your disposal. Music is a great way to communicate as is art. A gentle touch on the arm can convey love.
- Educate yourself about dementia.
- Routines and schedules can help to eliminate confusion and frustration for your loved one.
- Have realistic expectations for both of you. Then, expect the unexpected.
- Hold onto the person you know them to be.
- Try to never disagree with the dementia patient, especially about memories. It will only lead to your frustration and their stress. It’s easier to let it go.
- If possible, make sure your loved one eats a healthy diet with lots of leafy greens, fruit and berries. Good nutrition makes a difference in behavior.
- Allow them to participate and do as many things for themselves as possible.
- Forget trying to change your loved one. Get to know them as they are now in the present.
- Keep track of their current list of medications and dosages of each medication.
- Take time for fun. Do things together that you both enjoy.
- Turn to family members for support when necessary.
- Take care of yourself and have daily physical exercise. This also contributes to your mental health.
- Consider joining a local or online caregiver support group. You can experience caregiver burnout if you don’t take care of yourself.
- Many dementia and Alzheimer’s patients live two or more decades following their diagnosis. Take advantage of the time you have left with them.
- A dementia patient can remember emotions long after they’ve forgotten the event that caused them. That makes it important that your words and actions leave a positive and happy influence.
- Know your own limitations, both physically and emotionally. Don’t push yourself too much.
- Don’t put off the completion of legal documents, like living wills, etc.
- Breathe! You’re doing a great job.