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Caring for a Loved One with Dementia

Being a caregiver for a loved one with dementia can be a challenging yet rewarding responsibility.  Along with the difficulty in communicating with someone with memory impairment, caregivers also often face issues such as behavioral problems, mood disturbances, and a general physical decline.  Completing basic daily tasks such as dressing, eating, and sleeping can be both frustrating and exhausting.  

There are several approaches that are relatively easy to put in place when it comes to caring for a loved one at home: 

  • Speak to the physician regarding any behavioral, emotional, or physical problems that may be treatable.  There are medications that can help with depression, anxiety, agitation, and challenging behaviors. 

  • Remain active.  While it is necessary to avoid too much stimulation, it is still important that your loved one gets regular exercise and activity.  Do things your loved one has always enjoyed.  Activities may have to be broken down and modified based on your loved one’s level of functioning, but can still be meaningful for both of you. 

  • Be consistent.  It is very important to establish structure and routine for a person with dementia.  Try to develop a pattern when it comes to bathing, eating, toileting, and sleeping. 

  • Put yourself in their shoes.  It is frustrating and upsetting for both parties if you try to force a person with dementia to see your reality.  Do not insist that their thoughts are inaccurate.  Try to divert their attention with activity or a new topic.

  • Talk about the past.  Many times a person with dementia will not remember something that happened a few minutes ago, yet they clearly remember details of their childhood.  For a person who is often faced with “I can’t remember” it feels wonderful to reminisce about events in their past which they can recall. 

  • Make sure the environment is a safe one.  Keep medications and hazardous materials out of reach, locks on doors and cabinets, etc.

  • Obtain outside services when needed.  There are many options for caregivers including At Home Services, Adult Day Services, and Respite care.  Take advantage of the services your community has to offer

  • Take care of yourself.  As a caregiver it is extremely important to stay healthy.  Be sure to eat well, exercise regularly, and get adequate rest.  Make time for yourself each day, and ask for help when needed.

Fortunately, there are many sources of education and support for caregivers who need assistance addressing various concerns.  One example is Memory Care Home Solutions.  This innovative program is designed specifically to reduce caregiver stress and improve time at home for families caring for a loved one with memory impairment.  Customized, hands on training (in a home-like venue) and home visits give caregivers the skills to manage daily stress, and to transform their home into a place of safety and comfort for everyone who lives there.  “Memory Care Home Solutions...Improving Time at Home Through Changes at Home.”

For further information about Memory Care Home Solutions, community resources, or additional suggestions for dealing with day to day challenges related to caring for someone with dementia, please contact your ElderCare Specialist at (314) 802-5106 or caringinfo@standrews1.com.