Caring for someone with dementia can be quite a challenge, especially if you don’t have the necessary skills. It’s hard enough dealing with the shock of knowing that your loved one has the condition – what makes it worse is that dementia is a progressive disease, which means that it will most likely worsen over time. This is why it pays to know as much as you can about dealing with the condition. Here are the 3 essential factors you should remember when your loved one has dementia.
- The condition is not just about the loss of memory
Many people have the mistaken assumption that dementia is about the loss of memory – but it’s a lot more than this. The loss of memory is just one of the symptoms. There are kinds of dementia where the person will also show changes in their personality. The main fact you should understand is that the symptoms of the disease will be related to the actual areas or parts of the brain which are affected by it. This is also another reason why many dementia patients experience fluctuating moods and exhibit behaviours which are difficult to deal with. A formerly gentle and prim elderly woman, for instance, may suddenly begin using curse words. In the latter stages of the condition, the patient may not be able to attend to their physical needs (bathing, dressing, eating), and they may also be less communicative and not able to recognise family members.
- Have realistic expectations
If you will be caring for your loved one who has dementia, you should realise from the beginning that the disease is a progressive one. Your success in dementia care will depend on several factors: whether your loved one is safe, comfortable, and as happy as realistically possible. There will be good days and bad days, of course, and you should try your best to give them good days, but if days are bad, learn to accept it. Learn to treasure the good moments as they come but remember that the disease is irreversible. Try to make as happy an environment as possible, keep things familiar. This is why dementia care at home is highly recommended, as patients are in their own environment surrounded by things they love.
- Don’t be afraid to seek help
Sometimes, when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, we tend to carry the burden alone. But this is where it’s crucial to get all the support you can get – whether it’s emotional support or actual support in tasks and responsibilities. If you want, you can even join a support group; they are plentiful. Don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional, such as a professional caregiver. They will know how to deal with the condition and can give you the occasional respite you need, too.