Caring for a loved one who has dementia can be both rewarding and challenging. Often, it is hard to discriminate between your loved one’s old self and their new normal. Patients with dementia from conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease struggle daily with memory issues and daily tasks. This can be extremely frustrating for them, which may cause them to act out and lash out at their caregivers. If you are learning to become a caregiver for your loved one, then keep reading to learn tips from people who have undergone the same journey.
1. Learn Proper Communication Skills
Communication is key to having smooth and easy interactions with a loved one who has dementia. However, communicating with a patient with dementia can be difficult to say the least. Improving your own communication skills can help make your life less stressful and foster a better relationship with your loved one.
Easy ways to improve your own communication skills include learning to listen without judgment and asking simple, easy to answer questions. Listening without judgement or thought can be difficult, but it is essential to communicating better. Anytime you find your mind moving a million miles per hour while your loved one is talking, stop. Take a step back, and listen to them fully before thinking over the conversation and responding. Asking your loved one simple, easy to answer questions also is great for patients with dementia. Don’t add fluff to your language, simply ask them easy questions and stop frequently throughout the conversation to allow them time to think. If you drone on and on while talking to them, then they may grow frustrated and exhibit poor behaviours.
2. Be Positive
Being a caregiver is hard. No matter how much patience you think you have, nothing tries your patience like caring for someone else. One way to keep your own sanity and help your loved one is to try to always put a positive spin on every situation. Staying positive can keep your loved one’s spirits high and can keep your mindset clear and happy. While it may sound cheesy, always staying positive and banning any negative thoughts from your mind can truly make a difference while caring for a loved one.
If you are struggling to communicate with your loved one, or just simply having a bad day, then reassurance is key. Reassure yourself that you are doing your best, and reassure your loved one that they are safe and happy. People with dementia often show poor behaviors whenever they grow frustrated or are unhappy. When they are exhibiting bad behaviors, reassure them that their frustrations are valid and that they are in the best place for their health.
When your frustrations rise, also reassure yourself. Giving yourself a mini pep talk can help you stay positive and keep your stress level down.
4. Don’t Argue with Your Loved One
Arguing with your loved one is probably the worst thing that you can do for yourself and for them. Dementia causes your loved one’s brain to function poorly, so often the may say something that doesn’t make any sense or that they don’t truly mean. While it may be frustrating to hear these things come from your loved one, it is useless to argue with them. Arguing will just make you feel worse and make them feel more frustrated.
5. Learn About Dementia
One of the best things that you can do for you and your loved one is to learn more about their disease process. Talk with their doctors and do your own research to learn as much as you can about dementia. It will help you and your family understand your loved one better, and help you provide the best healthcare for your loved one.
6. Join a Support Group
One way to learn more about dementia is to find a support group for family members of patients with dementia. Support groups bring together caregivers and family members and allow them to rant about bad days, sing praises about good days, and generally be supportive of each other. Finding a support group can truly improve your outlook on life and help reduce your stress levels so that you can stay healthy and happy while caring for your loved one.
Dementia is truly a horrible and unpredictable disease that affects many families around the world. If your loved one is suffering, then you may end up becoming their caregiver at some point. If so, then these tips can help you stay healthy and keep your own mind positive throughout a trying time. Becoming a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be frustrating at times. Learn to stay positive and find your own outlet for stress relief in order to become the best caregiver for your loved one.