Dementia care posits many challenges to the individual with dementia as well as to the people caring for her/his. Given that there are different types of dementia, and every person is unique, we have as many behaviors as many types of dementia and/or personalities.
Knowing the differences among the different types of dementia and its behavioral and physiological characteristics and impact on the person suffering the disease is important. The most well-known form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, but there numerous other types, say Edward Francis and Foresthc.com. Lewy Body dementia, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s with dementia, and FTD (fronto-temporal dementia), and some of the most widespread forms. Therefore, it is important to have your sick loved one checked by an expert physician in the domain. A qualified medical practitioner won’t just observe the form of dementia; he will also be able to recommend the most appropriate treatment. For a better understanding of the disease, you might want to document yourself, too. Read about dementia and you’ll have the capacity of caring for your relative with a lot more compassion, love and understanding. Here are some truths about dementia every caregiver should know.
Flexibility is paramount
If your loved one suffers from dementia, you must learn to be flexible and understanding. Be prepared for mood daily swings, and have patience. If there’s one thing about dementia we can’t deny is this – there’s no going back, so it’s important to find a way and help your relative cope with the disease. Look for patterns and keep in mind that some days will be really bad, and others not so bad.
Be ok with advice from others
Those who can’t understand what caregiving actually means will probably come with all sorts of recommendations on how to care for a relative with dementia. Because they’re not in your shoes, making guesses is a lot easier for them. Don’t take it personal and try to relax; breathe, smile and let them say whatever they want because in the end, their sole intention is to help out even if they have no idea what they’re implying.
Detachment is necessary for the mental health of the caregiver
At first, this will be difficult. Unfortunately, it’s something you must do if you don’t want to go insane. A care giver must not allow his/her patient define their whole lives. If you have the misfortune of caring for a cranky, controlling senior, try not to allow their behavior soak up your sense of self and make you feel guilty and miserable. You’re not responsible for their dementia, so get over it and move on with your life while also helping them to the best of your abilities.
Empathy is required in order to feel compassionate
Let’s not confuse empathy with sympathy, because they’re totally different. Although we are compelled to detach ourselves from our dementia patients in order to stay sane, it is important to be sympathetic and feel their pain, too. They’re lost in their confusion and they can’t find their way back to reality. This means that as a caregiver, you must relate to their state of mind. Put yourself in their shoes for a second the next time your mother screams at you for 20 minutes. How would she react if things were different?
Don’t be judgmental towards your care receiver
Dementia patients will have good days and bad days. On those bad days, they might insult you. Don’t beat yourself up as you are doing everything you can to make their lives easier and more pleasant. Educate yourself on how to deal with bad behavior and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance in case you truly need it. Think about the good days and try to replicate those days; your patient could respond positively and even change his/her behavior instantly.
Ask for assistance and understand your limitations
Almost everyone trying to care for a patient with dementia eventually ends up needing help. You shouldn’t be compelled to look after a relative by yourself; ask for assistance from your siblings and make them understand that caregiving has to be a team effort. In special circumstances, you might consider hiring an in-home caregiver or place your loved one in an assisted living facility. One thing’s for sure – dementia is a serious illness that gets worse with time; this means that sooner or later, you will need professional assistance.
Certain truths are crystal-clear and just can’t be denied. Dementia caregiving implies more than visiting a relative once a week or helping around the house. You will have to make a full commitment, and provide the best assistance that you can in order to make the lifestyle of a loved one easier, and more fulfilling.