More than 5 million people in the United States and Canada are currently living with a form of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Dementia is a progressive disease that causes a loss of mental function. Over time, dementia patients have loss of memory, loss of reasoning and judgment, personality changes, behavioral changes, physical decline and death. When a person is living with dementia, it is imperative that they have a supportive caregiving team. A caregiver for dementia could be a family member, or there are many companies that provide in-home caregiving for dementia patients.
If you are caring for a loved one with dementia there are some common tactics that can help to keep the dementia patient comfortable, calm, safe and supported.
Develop a Daily Routine
Developing a daily routine for a patient with dementia will help both the caregiver and the patient manage the day better. Having a daily rhythm can provide a sense of what is coming next, even if the patient has memory loss or confusion. The symptoms of a patient dealing with dementia vary daily and a caregiver can never be sure how the patient’s mood, willingness or comfort will be, but a daily routine can help caregivers predict when the best times of day to do major activities might be.
Although it might seem scary to give independence to a patient with dementia, giving assisted independence to a dementia patient can help a patient maintain confidence and deter agitation. Assisted independence is a method of helping someone with dementia accomplish a task with the least amount of aid possible using verbal prompts, demonstration, guidance or some assistance.
Studies have shown that playing music around patients with dementia can help soothe them and reduce behavioral problems such as agitation aggression. Playing the patients favorite music, not the caregivers could be an effective form of dementia therapy.
Other tips that caregivers for dementia patients can use to make their patients more comfortable is to:
- Attempt to communicate clearly with a dementia patient by trying to minimize distractions, get the patient’s attention, speak simply and directly, and be patient.
- Try to make bathing less frightening and confusing by limiting bathing, planning ahead, warming the bathroom and making sure the bathroom is safe for the patient.
- Make dressing less stressful by encouraging independent choice of clothing, arranging clothing in order to be put on properly, providing instructions if needed, and choosing comfortable, easy to manipulate clothing.
- Make eating easier by limiting distractions, serving small meals and bites, and using utensils that are easy for the dementia patient to manage.
- Create a safe environment for the dementia patient by installing locks on exit doors, removing interior locks, lock up or get rid of dangerous objects, install childproof latches throughout the home and put a form of identification on the dementia patient.
If you have a loved one living with dementia, there are many resources that can help you with the caregiving of the dementia patient. When caring for a loved one with dementia, it is important that the caregiver have some respite and that they are able to take care of themselves. Caring for a loved one with dementia is time consuming and can wear on the caregiver. Competent Caregiving of Orange County, CA understands the challenges, changes and concerns that the patient diagnosed with dementia faces on a daily basis, as well as the frustrations, challenges and concerns that the entire family is dealing with. Competent Caregiving of Orange County, CA provides in-home caregiving for patients living with dementia. If your loved one is in need of caregiving for dementia and you need full-time or part-time caregiving help, then contact Competent Caregiving today at 800/755-4818.