Caring for someone with dementia is no simple task. With the right tools, resources, and knowledge, both you and the person living with dementia can sustain a fulfilling and positive care experience. Here are some of the most important elements of a care plan to help you to take on the role of caregiver for someone with dementia with ease and satisfaction.
Understand the Disease
Perhaps the most notable symptom of dementia is memory loss, but the disease manifests in a variety of other ways, too. Dementia is a degenerative disease that affects the person’s brain and results in a neurological decline that can impact their personality, moods, sense of reality, motor skills, and their ability to independently care for themselves, amongst other things.
The best practitioners of dementia care Sydney has to offer have put forth the suggestion that caregivers take an active role in the person with dementia’s medical treatment plan. Caregivers are encouraged to take note of any usual changes in behaviour that fall outside of classic memory loss and communicate these changes to the their primary care provider.
Success for a person with dementia looks different from person to person, and it’s important to readjust your idea of favourable outcomes as the disease progresses. At any stage, people with dementia will have days with many successes and days filled with moments of intense frustration for both of you.
Dementia only worsens over time, so it’s important to accept and celebrate each positive outcome as they happen, whether it’s a string of successful days or simply one accomplishment in the midst of a difficult day.
Dementia is frustrating for everyone it touches. Dementia caregivers are often incredibly taxed by the burden of responsibility involved in care, and those who live with dementia can become highly confused, volatile, disheartened, and sometimes unrecognisable from the person they were before the disease.
It is important to remember that not only does the person with dementia have very little control over what is happening to them, they may also experience intense disorientation that can feel dehumanising and anger-inducing. Picture how you may feel if you lost a grip on your identity, location, or memory, and exercise as much empathy as you can.
Caring for a person with dementia places an incredible weight on your shoulders. As you take on this role, you should never shy away from asking for help. Reach out to a support group, vent to a close relative or friend, bring in additional caregivers, and maintain an open line of communication with the person’s doctor.
Access to a support system can carry you through some of the more trying times. It’s never easy to walk this road. Fellow caregivers and close associates can provide a listening ear or a helping hand when things become too much for you to take on alone.
Take Care of Yourself
Dementia caregivers often feel daunted by the sheer number of responsibilities involved in caring for someone with the disease, and it can often seem to take over much of your life. While your consistent presence is important for the safety, happiness, and wellbeing of the person with dementia, you should never completely set your own needs aside while in the caregiver role.
Try to find ways to reduce some of the stress involved in your role as a caregiver. Not only will this make your care duties and tasks a lot easier for you to handle, but it will also improve the way you can show up as a caregiver. A burned out, overwhelmed caregiver simply cannot provide care as well as one who takes time away to do things to help themselves feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and level-headed.
Because dementia is a degenerative neurological disease, there will come a time when the person with dementia will need more care and assistance than you can provide. Begin to plan now for the day when your loved one will need professional at-home memory care or even to transition fully to a professional care facility.
Look ahead to the financial burden, safety needs, and potential health concerns that will need to be considered in the future. The more prepared you are now, the easier it will be to manage when it’s time.