New at Dementia Caregiving? Here are a few tips!

New at Dementia CaregivingDementia might affect someone’s ability to reason or impair them from performing everyday activities, however, someone who suffers from this cruel illness is able to feel and respond to love and other emotions. People with dementia should be treated with respect for their uniqueness and value despite their condition.

When someone becomes aware of the fact that they are suffering from dementia or are made aware by the doctor they experience vulnerability and fear. They become uncertain of their future and although they get irritated and difficult to deal with, they need to be re-assured by their loved ones, family and care-givers that they are not alone.  One important detail to remember is that the last part of the brain affected by dementia is the parts where emotions are present. 

Feeling Valued

We all want to feel valued. Regardless of the way we were brought, our racial or religious differences, our likes and dislikes, and anything that makes us different, we want to be valued for who we are.  With dementia patients it is no different. A loved one with dementia has the need to get respect from the people surrounding them. They want to feel valued despite their change in character and their physical or emotional challenges due to the condition.

Keep in mind:

-Have tolerance and be flexible

-Listen, chat and enjoy time with that person

-Be loving

-Be creative when doing things together


The Role of Names


Sometimes, referring to your loved one with dementia by their name will not do the trick.  Some of us like to be called by our name, our nickname, or even be addressed with courtesy titles.


Keep in mind:

-Determine how your loved likes to be called

-Younger people might need to apply courtesy titles if requested by your loved one


The Importance of Cultural Values

Cultural values make the person who they are. Rules as to how they like to get things done also makes them who they are. When caring for someone with dementia, the same applies. If you are hiring a caregiver, you have the responsibility to let him or her know how exactly your love one likes things and there must be complete respect for them.

Keep in mind:

-Religious values must be respected

-What they can eat due to religious values

-Respect for religious celebrations

-Respect how they like people around them to dress

-Respect how they want their hair

-Any other personal and important value to keep in mind


Be Nice!

Remember that when a person starts suffering from dementia, they begin to believe that they are not worthy as a human being. For this reason, it is extremely crucial that they get treated with courtesy and kindness. In other words, BE NICE!  I know how hard it can be to have to repeat yourself over and over again because your loved one cannot retain information after a few minutes. Practice patience and kindness every second.

Keep in mind:

-Your loved one needs reassurance so be nice and never talk down to them

-Don’t talk about them as if they are not present

-Never criticize them

-Do not scold them (they might act like kids but they are not)

-Put yourself in their shoes

-Try to decipher their words without losing your patience. It can seem they are not making sense however they might be trying to communicate something very important that needs to be taken care of.


Respect their Privacy

We are all entitled to privacy! No matter what. A patient with dementia also deserves privacy even in ways you would never imagine. I remember my Grandpa’s face when the time came to change his diaper. He felt so embarrassed. Despite his dementia he was well aware of what was going on. How would you feel?

Keep in mind:

-Reinforce the respect of your loved one from everyone in the family

-Some things should be done behind closed doors

-Knock on their door


Be a Soul Picker Upper

Dementia patients will lose their self esteem just as fast as they lose their memory. When they realize they are forgetting how to do things they start to feel worthless and it’s is up to the people around them to make them feel different.

Keep in mind:

-Spend quality time with your loved one

-Enhance their active life

-Help them stay social

-Plan activities where they are able to put their still functioning abilities to good use

-Encourage them

-Simplify their environment


Final Thoughts to Keep in Mind

Remember we are all different and that just that fact alone must be respected.  Anyone can suffer from dementia; however it affects people in different ways due to how unique the person is.  Be an encourager. Be the person you want to have next to your side when it’s your turn to be the care receiver.