It can be confusing to know how to best take care of your loved one with dementia. There are plenty of resources available to make it easier to care for an elder with dementia, but not all of them are right for your situation. This is especially true if you are going to provide your loved one with home care.
You don’t need to feel helpless and frustrated if you decide to be your loved one’s home caregiver. Caregivers are trained and dedicated with strategies to help people new to home care who are struggling. The most important part for you, as a home caregiver, is choosing a strategy that works for your elderly loved one.
No two elderly dementia patients respond the same way to a home care strategy. That’s why we’ve put together some of the most effective home care strategies to assist loved ones with dementia, because we know that figuring out the right strategy takes time and effort. Read on to discover the most helpful caregiver methods you can use to give your elderly loved one the quality of home care they deserve.
Establish Routine Communication
Clear, consistent communication with your loved one can be difficult to achieve if they have dementia. A good strategy to adopt early on in your home care lifecycle is to take advantage of when your loved one is most communicative. This can be during a certain time of day, before or after a meal, or even when they’re engaged in a favorite pastime or activity.
Once you know when your loved one is easiest to communicate with, you can start engaging them about important topics like their personal hygiene, exercise, and medical appointments to go to. These topics can be difficult to talk to them if they are feeling confused or frustrated. However, it’s important to maintain a consistent dialogue with your loved one as often as possible.
Always Stay Calm and Be Patient
Your loved one with dementia experiences moments of significant confusion, fear, and anger. When you notice that they are becoming agitated, it’s up to you to stay calm and be patient with them. One of the most common challenges home caregivers face is letting their emotions get the best of them.
As a home caregiver, you don’t ever want your loved one to feel like they can’t accept your help. But if you react angrily when they start getting stubborn, you will only end up making the problem worse. You can start working on this issue by paying more attention to your body language and the words that you say when your loved one refuses or is simply unable to listen to you.
Sometimes, particularly when your loved one simply refuses to accept your help, the best thing for you to do is to just listen. Listening to an elderly person with dementia when they are feeling upset or scared can help you figure out why they are resisting your help. This will help you remain calm and be patient with your loved one, even when they respond stubbornly to your care.
Listen More Than You Speak
Many home caregivers want to be assertive with their words. They think that if they get the last word in with their loved one, it will be easier for them to cooperate and communicate. But a lot of the times that this happens, your loved one is actually the one trying to get a word in.
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to let your loved one talk when they’re being ornery with you during a discussion. You may not realize what is setting them off unless you stop talking and listen to them. Something as simple as the environment or time of day can make your loved one confused and frustrated.
Learn to listen more to your loved one’s words and body language. It’s not always the case that they’ll be obvious about what’s troubling them, so you need to make an effort to listen to both their words and their body. Listening more is also an effective way to improve your patience levels and abilities as a home caregiver.
Also Read: Dementia: More a symptom than a disease
Learn More About Dementia and How it Affects Your Loved One
Dementia can be as scary for your loved one as it can be for you. It’s a neurological disorder that affects different parts of the brain. This means that the way dementia manifests itself in your loved one can affect their personality as well as their memory.
Although it’s tough and almost always emotionally draining, you need to become familiar with the different ways dementia can affect your loved one. Dementia always results in a steady decrease in brain function, so changes in behavior, mood, and memory are likely. Many new home caregivers expect dementia to only affect their loved one’s memory, and unfortunately, this is not usually the case.
You can better cope with the different ways your loved one will behave by understanding different dementia symptoms. Quality home care considers changes in temperament and personality as part of dementia’s stages. As your loved one’s dementia advances to later stages, pay attention to how their personality is changing and how you can empathetically respond.
A Little Flexibility Goes a Long Way
As a home caregiver for a loved one with dementia, some days will always be easier than others. That’s why you need to let yourself be flexible and learn to meet your loved one halfway on things. This will save you a lot of much-needed mental and emotional strength.
You can wind up spending too much energy by arguing with your loved one and getting frustrated when they don’t remember things. Understand that elderly people with dementia won’t always be able to finish the tasks you give them or function the way you expect them to. In these cases, show empathy and remain gentle with them to keep them happy.
Flexibility and simple empathy create the foundation for good habits for home care. You will become emotionally and mentally exhausted if you don’t stay flexible with your loved one as their behaviors continue to change. Remember to always put compassion first as you learn how to become a better home caregiver.
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