A Guide For Caring for a Family Member with Dementia

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Seeing a family member suffering from dementia is a stressful thing. Moreover, caring for them is also a long, challenging, and emotional journey. There are a lot of misconceptions associated with dementia and the most notable one is: that dementia is a part of the normal aging process. Well, this is not the case. Dementia refers to memory loss, behavioral changes, and other confusing responses from patients. This can happen at any age. However, with the right amount of care you can make a big difference in the life of a family member who is suffering from dementia. Here we have mentioned important steps and support measures which can help you to manage such conditions effectively.

Support for Memory Loss and Confusion Responses

Being a caregiver, you may face difficulty in handling the memory loss and confusing responses of your patient. This progresses with time, owing to the decline of cognitive functions of a dementia patient.

  • Effective Engagement: You can deal with this situation by engaging your patient in simple yet effective activities. It can be jigsaw puzzles, walking around a beautiful place, or having a moment in their favorite restaurants. The only purpose of increasing their engagement is to make them feel busy in healthy activities. Sitting idle for a longer period of time may speed up the decline in cognitive function.
  • Use Memory Triggers and Be Consistent: Using memory triggers like photographs, important gifts, and achievements from past events may help your patient to recall the past memories. This can help in reducing aggression and improve their mood. Make sure you follow this routine regularly since consistency is a key to success.
  • Prove Written Reminders: Using written reminders related to a medication schedule, date, and time of an important appointment is effective in helping your loved one to be independent. You can also label things for their ease in using them.
  • Friendly Communication: Friendly communication using simple and easy words can help your patient to feel relaxed mentally. Even if you have complex instructions related to their medication, try to convey the information in clear simple words so they are not left with any misunderstandings or confusion.

Support for Behavioral Changes

Handling mood swings, and personality changes is the greatest challenge since these behavioral changes occur often. However, to tackle these difficulties you can better use your creative thoughts, flexibility, patience, and above all compassion. This way you won’t be taking things personally and handle them with a little sense of humor.

  • Have Patience: This is very important in handling the behavioral changes of a dementia patient. You should keep in mind that the other person is suffering from a brain disorder that has changed their personality. So, it’s better to not take things personally and manage the situation wisely.
  • Accommodate Behavior: Make sure you try to accommodate the behavior, not try to control or change it. For example, if your patient is asking for food at an unusual time, try to arrange some to make them feel more comfortable. Every behavior has a purpose so try to find out what the other person is trying to accomplish with such behavior. This can be a clue for their need to be busy or productive.

Support for Sleep Problems

Disturbance of sleep patterns is also very common in dementia patients. This is because dementia symptoms appear more frequently in the afternoon or evening. Due to a series of confusion and memory loss, the patient won’t be able to differentiate between daytime and nighttime

  • Plan a Proper Routine: You should try to have a structured routine for your patient at meal time, showers, and bedtime. Make sure you don’t encourage napping during the day since it will affect their sleep at night. So, try to indulge them in activities the whole day.
  • Exercise: Exercising is very crucial in a healthier lifestyle since it keeps the mind active and fresh. So, try to go for a walk in a nearby exercise corner or perform simple exercises like stretching.

Support for Proper Nutrition

Choose healthier foods that are not processed and have high cholesterol, sodium, and fat. Make a diet plan having a healthier portion of vegetables, fruits, meat, and other dietary products.

  • Fixed Mealtime: Having a fixed mealtime is a wise choice since it helps your patient to remember the timing easily each day. It also leads to familiarity.
  • Cut Down Caffeine and Sugar: You must know that caffeine and sugary things are highly addictive, so it’s better to reduce the intake of these foods. This practice promotes good sleep hygiene and potentially helps cope with sleep problems effectively.
  • Feed Them Their Favorite Foods: Offering your patient their favorite food reduces anxiety and distress. This ultimately leads to a happy mood.

Caregiving of a dementia patient can be challenging if you are not sticking to the main rules. You must keep in mind that the other person is facing a scary time as well. You need to be lenient and easy with them. This can make the situation super peaceful for both of you.

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