Caring for a loved one with dementia

Supporting loved ones with dementia is something very close to my heart so I’ve written about some areas that may help 🙂

A few areas to consider:

Maintain your well-being

When caring for a loved one with dementia, it can be easy to put the other person’s needs first and ignore your own, but looking after yourself is vital for your own health and well-being 🙂 Taking care of yourself is an absolute must!

You could try writing lists as they can be useful to break down the steps needed for each decision or task that needs to be made. This might also help to reduce stress in decision-making.

Learn as much as you can about about dementia

Understanding the condition, symptoms and dementia-related behaviours can really help in supporting the individual. Alzheimer’s Society, Alzheimer’s Research and Dementia UK have some amazingly detailed information available on all areas of dementia which can be really helpful.

Accept support

Accepting support is really important. It can understandably be extremely difficult as a spouse, child or any other family member in using support but it will help in offering any level of care to your loved one. Admiral Nurses at Dementia UK are real-life angels, as are Dementia Adviser’s at Alzheimer’s Society who are there to offer invaluable support. You can find more about them here

Plan ahead

It is likely to give you more assurance to plan ahead. Then if the situation changes, there are alternative options which will help you feel more prepared. Many families find it useful to look for a care home that provides respite should your loved one need it now or in the future.

There are over 32,000 care homes registered with the CQC (Care Quality Commission) which you can check out here

Have a look out for the highest CQC ratings and also ask to look at activity schedules – this is a real telling sign on how the home supports the residents’ well-being.

Although dementia affects each person differently, below are some common questions that family members have asked me about dementia which may be useful to other families affected by dementia.

Q. Is there anything I can do to help my family member with their memory loss around the home?

A. Some practical ideas include:

– Labelling cupboard doors with written labels or pictures can help in areas like the kitchen or bedroom. Also, coloured stickers can be helpful with on and off switches.

– A diary that you can both check daily can help with appointments and socialising.

– Putting medication in daily trays or in a special container, such as a Dosette box, to help remember to take them on the right day and at the right time. This can encourage independence when taking medication and help to prevent mistakes.

Q. How can I be sure that my partner living with dementia has enough to eat and drink?

A. Mealtimes are important and enjoyable times of the day for everyone. Try to keep to regular meal times and eat together if possible. Having a regular routine really helps so it is always best not to disrupt a routine that is in place. Try and prevent distractions at mealtimes, and keep the surroundings calm, such as turning the TV off or music down.

Q. How do I handle repetitive phone calls or conversations with my parent who wants to go home?

A. Asking and desiring to go home is a common request that people with dementia make. There are a number of reasons for this, sometimes it is because they feel unsafe or insecure, especially if they are on their own, or sometimes it is because they no longer recognise their surroundings so are seeking familiarity.

It can be helpful to talk to your relative about their childhood home as this is often the ‘home’ people with dementia are referring to. Looking at photos and talking about their past life can help them.

I’ve listed few books below that might also be helpful 🙂 The June Andrews one is amazing!

Dementia Reconsidered: The person comes first – Tom Kitwood

Contented Dementia – Oliver James

Still Alice – Lisa Genova

Dementia: The one stop guide – June Andrews

Hope this helps a bit x Rebecca x

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