Tips for caring for someone with dementia
Caring for someone with dementia is difficult because the patient’s habits and behavior change to the point that they may seem like a stranger. The caregiver must remember though that underneath the symptoms of dementia there is still the person they know and love. These tips may be helpful in providing accordingly loving care.
· Rule out other issues that could affect communication, such as poor hearing or eyesight.
· Be patient and give them time to understand and respond.
· Keep in mind the patient still has feelings and emotions even though they may not be able to convey them.
· Speak in short, clear sentences. Describe in detail what you’re doing and what is going on.
· Do not argue or patronize the care receiver, ask them anything that they would have to remember, or talk about them to other people as if they weren’t there.
· Employ positive body language and touch.
· Approach communication consistently.
· Do not try to speak over loud noises.
· Rule out causes of appetite loss like acute illness, depression, or denture problems.
· Offer 5 to 6 small meals a day, as well as snacks throughout the day.
· Consider an alarm or electronic reminder of mealtimes.
· Serve one course at a time only.
· Serve familiar foods.
· Avoid plates with distracting patterns.
· Eat with the patient so that they can emulate your actions, such as chewing.
· Serve finger food or try bendable eating utensils.
· Ask a nutritionist about supplements that could prevent weight loss during the advanced stages of dementia.
· Offer plenty of liquids.
· Ensure the bathroom is sufficiently warm and well-lit.
· Playing soothing music may be helpful during personal care activities.
· Pick the time of the day when they are more calmed for personal care.
· Provide easy to follow step-by-step directions.
· Bring out the necessary items and arrange them in the order that they are to be used.
· Defuse their fear of water or of falling down by using products such as a basin for washing or a hand-held shower to show them both you and him/her are in control.
· Take note of the patient’s bladder/bowel emptying patterns and use them to regularly remind them to use the toilet.
· Keep an eye out for body language such as pulling on clothes and agitation. Use these cues to make the suggestion that they use the toilet in short and simple words so as to not embarrass them.
· Ensure that bathroom is not too far – if it is, you may consider bedpans, commodes, or urinals –, that the bed is not too high to get in and out of, that toilet paper is visible and reachable, and that the bathroom can be differentiated from other rooms.
· Nightlights in the hallways and in the bathroom can help show the correct way at night.
· Raised bars and seats can help the patient get on and off the toilet.
· Provide them with easily removable clothes with elastic and Velcro waistbands.
· Promote the use of adult briefs, diapers, pads, etc. as necessary.
· Offer low-caffeine beverages, a fiber-rich diet, and encourage moderate physical activity.
Sleeping habits may be affected by
· Changes in the brain’s biological clock.
· Medical conditions.
· Urinary tract infections.
· Sleep apnea.
The following can also cause insomnia:
· Going to bed too early.
· Lack of exercise.
· Excess of caffeine or alcohol.
· Heat or cold.
· Inadequate lighting.
· Changes in daily routines.
· Furnish them with an identity bracelet or any other identification that includes name, address, and emergency contact numbers, obviously including yours as the person who is caring for someone with dementia.
· Label doors and cupboards.
· Place a list with emergency and frequently used numbers near the telephone.
· Make as few changes to their familiar environment as possible unless necessary for their own wellbeing.
· Use a pill organizer to help them take their medications.
· Employ notice boards or post-its to record important reminders.
· Buy large clocks and calendars that are easy to read.
· Notify doctors and family and friends of any aggressive behavior.
· Think of ways to passively protect yourself from aggressive behavior while caring for someone with dementia.
· Take not of what triggers aggressive outbursts.
· Lock away objects that can be used as weapons, in particular in the kitchen and bathroom.
· Ask a physician for advice on how to handle aggressive behavior.