5 Approaches for Assisting a Loved One with Dementia

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Thousands of people across the country assume the role of caregiver for an elderly loved one. Caring for an older adult living with dementia presents a number of challenges. However, with a few strategies, caregivers can better handle the task.

1. Maintain Dignity

Regardless of their degree of cognitive impairment, seniors with dementia deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They shouldn’t be treated as children, belittled, or scolded, no matter what behaviors emerge. For example, your loved one may resist bathing or other personal care. Avoid arguing. If he or she continues to resist, drop the issue and try again another time. Always offer a choice when it comes to clothing, meals, and care. 

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Des Moines seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

2. Prepare for Behavioral Issues

Your loved one may act out angrily or display overwhelming frustration or sadness for no apparent reason. Realize that he or she can no longer find the words to express the underlying cause for the behavior. Your loved one might be hungry, thirsty, in pain, or overly tired, or he or she may need to use the restroom. Ask simple questions in an attempt to determine the need. If the reason isn’t a basic need, try diversion. Take your loved one into a different room and look at pictures or listen to music. Perhaps offer a snack.

3. Ensure Safety

The brain damage caused by dementia can rob seniors of the ability to distinguish between night and day. Seniors with dementia also lose the reasoning ability needed to perceive possible dangers. Doors that exit to the outside must have some type of alarm system to alert you and other caregivers that your loved one is attempting to venture outdoors unaccompanied. A motion detector on the bed or by the bedroom doorway at night adds additional protection.

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenging task for anyone. The responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but help is available. Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Des Moines at-home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help.

4. Optimize Lighting

Seniors with dementia may experience vision changes they’re not aware of. As such, when the sun begins to wane in the afternoon, the brain doesn’t properly interpret the changing light, which leads to confusion and frustration. It’s not uncommon for seniors with dementia to act out their frustration by becoming anxious or angry. Make the environment more comfortable for your loved one by turning on interior lights. Vision changes may also cause your loved one to interpret dark areas on floors as holes. Conversely, he or she may not be able to perceive depth or easily distinguish between items of the same color.

5. Plan for Advanced Impairment

In the later stages of dementia, seniors are not unlike young children in terms of requiring their needs to be met by someone else. At some point, they’ll no longer be able to tell when they need to use the bathroom, eat, sleep, or wake up. Continue showing the compassion, love, and support your loved one needs to maintain a high quality of life. 

Having a professional caregiver nearby can give you peace of mind about your loved one’s safety and comfort. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same in-home care. Families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. If you need professional home care for your loved one, our Care Managers are just a phone call away. Reach out to Home Care Assistance today at (515) 264-2438.

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