Having a loved one who has dementia isn’t easy for anyone. It’s hard to know what to do when you see someone forget the things that make them who they are.
Unfortunately, dementia is becoming more common by the year. Reports show that 5.8 million Americans had dementia during 2019.
If you’re wondering how to deal with dementia, look no further. Below are eight tips that will help you take care of your loved one.
1. Prepare for the Future
It’s hard to know what to do if you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Make sure you learn more about dementia and how it affects people.
Things aren’t likely to stay the way they are. As time goes on, your loved one is going to continue losing their memory and have personality changes. The more you learn about these changes, the better you can handle them when they happen.
You don’t want to jump into things without knowing what to do.
2. Get Your Personal Support Network Ready
Your loved one isn’t the only person that will need support during the coming years. You need to make sure that you take care of yourself, as well.
Reach out to friends and family to figure out who can do what. It doesn’t matter how small the action is. If it helps you, it’s worth asking someone to do it.
You should also get people ready to watch your loved one while you go out every once in a while. Work with them so they know how to work with someone with dementia.
If you don’t have many people to talk to about your struggles, find a support group in your area. Other people are going through the same thing you are. They can give you some insight into how to deal with the problems you encounter daily.
3. Develop Routines
Going through the day and not knowing what will happen can be stressful when dealing with a dementia patient. If you want to add a little stability to your day, try to come up with a routine to follow.
It won’t only help you, either. Having set times for walking, eating, and sleeping can help a person with dementia throughout the day. It will help orient them with what’s going on.
Of course, you don’t have to be strict with your routine. Make sure you stay flexible in case something unexpected does happen. The goal is to provide more familiarity and stability, not to create a schedule you can’t get out of.
4. Keep Your Loved One Social
Humans are social creatures. If you think having dementia means they won’t function as well with people, you’re doing your loved one a disservice. They may improve if you surround them with family and friends.
Try to schedule times during the week where they can meet up with friends and family. You can try to set up activities that they’re familiar with so your loved one isn’t frustrated with what they’re doing.
You can also try to vary what they do by stimulating their different senses. You can try anything from outdoor walks, gardening, and sitting down to talk.
5. Take Care of Problem Behaviors
Unfortunately, bad behavior comes with the territory when working with an Alzheimers sufferer. The good news is that these behaviors are typically triggered by something.
If you find your loved one being overly aggressive, not eating, or having trouble sleeping, try to keep track of what they were doing beforehand. There may be events happening previously that are triggering these behaviors.
If you can figure out the trigger and remove it, you can improve the stability of your loved one. Both of you will be happier as a result.
6. Learn the Art of Distraction
Sometimes things just don’t work out. Your loved one may get triggered by something and end up causing more problems than you can handle. In cases like this, it’s easier to distract them with something different.
You can use anything to distract them. Ask your loved one what they would rather have for dinner, what they need from the store, or talk about something that is happening in the neighborhood. Your goal is the shift their focus off the event that is triggering bad behavior.
7. Learn to Break Things Down Into Steps
People living with dementia can’t function the way you can. Complex tasks may be out of the question. But that doesn’t mean they still can’t handle the steps of the process.
Try breaking tasks down into smaller pieces. They may not be able to handle planting a new vegetable in the garden. But they can dig the hole for it, add the plant to the hole, and cover the roots up with dirt.
Keep in mind that they may forget the steps of the process, as well. You can use visual cues to help guide them through the process.
8. Don’t Forget to Check With a Doctor
Someone living with dementia may not have the capabilities to communicate what they want or need. It’s going to be up to you to figure that out. The problem is, sometimes their behavior can be caused by pain or a medical condition.
If your loved one is acting out and you can’t find a trigger, it’s a good idea to check with a doctor. They will be able to examine them to look for an underlying medical cause. Things can get better simply by adjusting medication.
If someone is in good health, then they are less likely to act out during the day.
Now You Know How to Deal With Dementia
Knowing how to deal with dementia is only the first step. Now you need to put what you learned into practice. Make sure to use the tips above so you can provide the care that your loved one deserves.
Do you want to learn more about taking care of the people you love? Head back to our blog to learn more things that will help.
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