Caring for Someone With Dementia
- Providing care for a person with dementia can be emotionally and physically
exhausting. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and getting enough rest.
- By continuing to learn about dementia and its symptoms, you’ll give yourself the
best chance to manage difficult behaviors.
- Tackle each difficulty individually, starting with the most immediately frustrating
Listening and other communication skills are an essential part of providing care
for a loved one with dementia.
Alzheimer’s and other dementia-causing diseases are sometimes called “family diseases”
because children, spouses, and other family members are often the ones who provide
the necessary day-to-day care. As the disease worsens and involves more upsetting
changes, it can take a heavy toll on a caregiver’s physical and mental health, family
life, job, and finances. But by taking a balanced, thoughtful approach, you can
reduce your stress while helping your loved one remain as comfortable as possible.
First, accept the ever-changing nature of the disease. What works today may not
work tomorrow. Adaptation is essential. For example, if your loved one can no longer
use a fork or spoon but can eat with his or her fingers, serve as many finger foods
as possible. Your creativity and common sense are two of your strongest allies.
Another difficult but essential truth to swallow is that you can only do so much.
While your help can go a long way toward making your loved one’s life more comfortable,
you cannot cure the disease or stop its progression.
Simple safeguards can reduce day-to-day worries. For example, have an ID necklace
or bracelet made for your loved one, including his or her name, illnesses, and your
telephone number. Many organizations sell these products, including the Alzheimer’s Association.
Keep in mind that you can’t provide effective care for your loved one unless you’re
also taking good care of yourself. Make sure you’re consistently getting enough
rest, eating well, and making time for things you enjoy.
Next Step: Learn how to communicate better with
someone suffering from dementia.