Caring for Dementia Patients at Home

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The caregivers for patients of dementia may find themselves confronted with many challenges especially when they are treating a person within the family. Essentially, people diagnosed with dementia resulting from Alzheimer’s and other mental illnesses may undergo a progressive brain disorder, which impairs their memory and their ability to think clearly, communicate effectively, and care for themselves. In addition, it is pertinent to know that the condition of dementia can trigger mood swings and may also bring a transition in a person’s personality, thus causing a potential change in behavior.

This discussion provides useful insight on strategies to deal with communication and behavioral issues of people with dementia for their caregivers alongside medications and prescription drugs. 

This article is not to undermine nor play down the need and effectiveness of prescription drugs but to offer support for those who find themselves looking after a patient. It’s worth mentioning that you can always seek immediate medical help from https://www.nhs.uk/ in the UK and allo-pharmacie-garde.fr in France. 

Consider the Following Objectives as a Caregiver

Combat Frustration

The person requiring care may become flustered when simple tasks may appear difficult to accomplish. Therefore, you as a caretaker should consider doing the following to ease frustration.

Schedule Effectively

You must consider establishing a daily routine. You should be flexible to allow time for spontaneous tasks. Tasks such as medical appointments and bathing become easier when a person is attentive and has all the energy to focus.

Also, it is essential that you do not rush for the completion of tasks. Rather, you can anticipate longer than usual time for tasks and allow yourself breaks between different activities.

Engage them with the Tasks They Love to Do

An effective strategy is to allow the person to perform their activities with the least amount of assistance possible. The person with dementia may find it easier to set the table by themselves given visual cues. They may be able to dress independently if clothes are laid out in order.

Provide Alternatives

You can provide alternatives to the person. However, giving too many choices is not advisable. For instance, you may ask the person if they would like to play a game of chess or go for a walk or what kind of beverage would they like, hot or cold.

Provide a Precise Guide

It is helpful to know that people with dementia are able to understand clear, instructive communication more easily.

Demonstrate Flexibility

Although the objective is to decrease the dependability of the patient, it is worth knowing that sometimes, the person may want assistance, and to reduce their frustration, you, as a caregiver need to demonstrate flexibility and adapt a better routine and alter your expectations as well. For instance, if the person wishes to wear a certain outfit in a routine, you may consider getting them identical pieces of that outfit. Moreover, if bathing is resisted, you can reduce its frequency.

Ensure a Safe Environment

It is of interest to note that dementia has the potential to impair a person’s ability to judge, putting them at a high risk of getting injured. To ensure safety, consider the following:

You need to be careful about the obstacles present in the environment that increase the risk of falls. To prevent falls, you may consider installing handrails in places that require careful movement.

You may install locks on the cupboard and drawers that contain medicine, weapons, toxic elements, and sharp utensils.

You should also consider taking fire safety precautions. Keep matchboxes out of reach of dementia patients. If the person is a smoker, you should monitor their smoking and make arrangements for extinguishers as a precautionary measure.

Tips to Consider

Knowing how to communicate with people with dementia does not come naturally. However, we can learn to improve our communication skills and make the experience less stressful for both parties. Quality communication will also improve the relationship with the person and strengthen your potential to provide the necessary care effectively.

Consider Setting up a Positive Mood

You must be aware of the fact that your attitude and body language can communicate your thoughts in a more powerful manner than your actual words. It is essential that you set a positive mood and speak to the person in a respectful manner. You must be willing to show affection with facial expressions when you communicate. 

Draw the Person’s Attention

It is important that you draw the person’s attention towards yourself. Get rid of all kinds of distractions such as TV, Radio, curtains, etc. Get in a quiet place, draw attention, and address them by their name. You should also identify your link with them and provide nonverbal cues to maintain good contact.

Deliver the Message Clearly

Use simple language while you communicate. Articulate the message intelligently in a way that it is easier for the person with dementia to comprehend. Speak slowly in a tone that helps you to gain their trust. Pitch the voice lower. Refrain from being louder. If your listener is unable to comprehend, repeat the message in a polite manner, or consider rephrasing the question upon consecutive failure. It is preferable that you use names while addressing and mentioning people instead of pronouns.

Articulate Simple Questions

Use yes-no questions. It is preferred that open-ended questions are not used. Multiple choices could also be confusing. It is helpful to show choices through visual cues thus clarifying what you have asked and guide the response.

Adapt Active Listening

It is important to be patient while you record the reply. You may need to guide the person if they struggle with words. You should consider nonverbal cues to understand the meaning of the message. Pay attention to the feelings to decipher the meaning.

Break Down the Entire Task into Small Pieces of Work

The division of tasks into a series of instructions can make it easier to manage tasks effectively. If your client forgets a step, you should help them or use cues for better retention.

When It’s Difficult to Progress, Distract and Resume

When your loved one is frustrated, it would be helpful for you to change the subject. You can ask them to go for a walk. It is essential that you connect with the person on an emotional level. Try saying “I see you’re feeling sad—I’m sorry you’re upset. Let’s go get something to eat.”

Demonstrate Affection and Gain Confidence

Dementia patients could feel anxious, distressed, and perplexed about themselves. Furthermore, they may find themselves in a confused state and ruminate thoughts about events that never happened. You need not try to explain to them that they are wrong. Instead, you can focus on showing real feelings of support, comfort and reassure them of better health. Physical contact such as hugging, touching can also help to get the person to respond positively and open up a bit.

Provide a Reminder of Good Times

Pleasant experiences are likely to be retained by people with dementia. Considering asking about pleasant past experiences instead of testing memory with asking questions that are aimed at testing the short-term memory of the person. People with dementia may not remember what happened half an hour ago, but may be able to share their experiences that are 40 years old.

Have a Healthy Sense of Humor

You can use your humor wherever possible. However, care should be taken to not hurt that person. What can light you up with hope is that dementia patients are able to have their social skills and like to get along and laugh.

How to Handle Troubling Behavior?

Changes in personality and behavior are among the greatest challenges faced by the caregiver when caring for a loved one with dementia. In order to confront these challenges effectively, you must be creative, patient, compassionate, and flexible. It is important that you do not relate to anything personally and show a good sense of humor.

The person cannot be changed. The person being cared for is influenced by the mental developments that take place. Remember, any attempt aimed at controlling their behavior is likely to be unsuccessful.

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