A devastating disorder with no known cure, dementia affects more than five million people in the United States. In addition to the terrible toll it takes on its sufferers, the brain disease puts a heavy burden on caregivers. Because most dementia patients are cared for at home, it is often up to their adult children to take charge. Difficult even for medical professionals who have proper training, most primary caregivers have no idea how to proceed. With that in mind, here are five simple tips that should help.
1. Don’t Do It All Yourself!
According to a recent survey by the Alzheimer’s Association, about 40 percent of primary dementia care providers suffer from depression. If you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, ask for help ASAP! The emotional stress that comes with caring for a person with the illness, especially if they’re a parent, is simply too much for an untrained individual to handle. That is why we strongly suggest getting professional help from a specialized facility. Whether they come to you or you go to them, it is important to take the weight of the world off your shoulders.
2. Try To Have Patience
One of the most frustrating things about dealing with dementia patients is that they can’t communicate as they once did. In most cases, however, communication is possible, as long as you have patience. That means slowing things down a bit and giving them more time to process what you say. It also helps if you maintain eye contact at all times and take note of any facial gestures or cues. In some cases, patients with brain disease prefer to nod or shake their heads, rather than answering questions verbally. So take your time and try not to let the frustration win.
3. Prepare For The Inevitable
One of the many tragedies of the illness is that it always gets worse with time. As a result, a dementia care provider must be mentally and physically prepared for an inevitable decline. In almost all cases, the extra care a person with worsening symptoms will require is simply too much for one person to handle. It is at this point that many adult children turn to specialized facilities.
4. Avoid Using Baby Talk
Even if they have memory issues, adults with dementia should be able to understand you if you speak in a slow, even tone. There is absolutely no need to use baby talk or any other condescending mode of communication.
5. Plan Ahead
As we mentioned, most patients with the disorder eventually require professional dementia care services. There is no reason to think that your elderly parent or relative will be any different. It is also important to add that there is absolutely nothing you can do to avoid it. Even if you did everything right, it can be utterly impossible for a family to care for a patient in the final stage of the illness at home.
Although the road ahead will be rocky, these simple tips should help you find and provide excellent dementia care at home.