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How Do You Care for a Person with Dementia?

Ways to care for someone with Dementia

Quality of life is a major concern when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, especially as the disease progresses. If you’re a family member-turned-dementia caregiver, you may be wondering how to care for a person with dementia. While every dementia care plan will look different, simple changes to everyday tasks can make a significant difference.

9 Ways to Care for Someone Living with Dementia

1. Support Groups

Support groups are incredibly valuable for both people living with dementia and their family members. These groups can help people feel less alone and become better connected to both national and local resources.

Support resources include:

2. Education

There is truth to the saying that knowledge is power. If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s time for you to learn more, including:

3. Good Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep hygiene means taking steps to prioritize sleep quality and quantity. Getting a full night’s rest is especially important for the well-being of people in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease, as poor sleep can lead to a condition known as sundowning. Sundown syndrome refers to a group of symptoms that occur in the late afternoon and early evening, such as confusion, agitation, and wandering.

Good sleep hygiene practices include:

  • No long naps and no late-day napping
  • No caffeine after noon
  • No alcohol consumption

4. Advocacy

A caregiver is someone who directly provides for the physical needs of patients, whereas an advocate’s role is to help the patients understand available resources and ensure that they get the treatment they deserve at the level of care they require.

It’s the difference between performing a task yourself and delegating it to an expert. In many ways, when you bring a parent or other older loved one to a memory care community, you’re entering into a partnership and becoming your loved one’s advocate.

Ways to become a great memory care advocate for your loved one include:

  • Knowing your resources
  • Reading the fine print of all paperwork
  • Remaining active in your loved one’s life

5. Establish Power of Attorney

It isn’t pleasant to think about, but there may come a time when your aging relative can no longer make decisions for themself. In these cases, it is helpful to have a power of attorney established. Power of attorney, or letter of attorney, is a legal document that establishes that one person can make decisions on another’s behalf should that individual be unable to make decisions for himself or herself.

It’s usually less stressful to establish power of attorney in the early stages of dementia, when your loved one can comprehend and sign important legal documents that outline how he or she wants to receive care, the type of eldercare he or she wants, and who should make decisions on their behalf. If a letter of attorney is established in the middle or later stages of dementia, it can be difficult for your family member to understand what you are asking him or her to sign; he or she may become combative and confused about the process. In such cases, it may mean that you have to take your family to court to have a judge declare you a legal guardian who can make decisions on your relative’s behalf, which can be a lengthy, stressful, and costly process.

6. Daily Routine

Routine is critical for people living with dementia. Day-to-day schedules should look largely the same for people living with memory loss, as it can reduce frustration and confusion. One of the easiest ways to establish a routine is to define mealtimes (and meal prep times, if the person living with dementia is able to help) and when to go to bed/wake up.

7. Self-Care

Self-care is an excellent way to boost the mental health of not just the person with dementia, but also for family members who assume the role of unpaid dementia caregivers. It’s important that everyone schedules time each day dedicated to doing something enjoyable, whether that be playing cards, meditating, or taking walks.

8. Active Listening

Active listening is the art of truly listening with another person with a focus on making a connection and understanding the other person. Ways to practice active listening when conversing with a dementia patient include:

  • Making eye contact
  • Repeating information for clarification
  • Validating the emotions of the other person

9. Professional Dementia Care

There may come a time when you and your family cannot care for your loved one alone. In these times, hiring professional dementia care services can help bring your family peace of mind that your loved one is well-cared for. Forms of dementia care that may be appropriate for your family’s unique situation include:

  • In-home care/home health care services, such as Meals on Wheels and Visiting Angels
  • Residential long-term care services at an assisted living or memory care community
  • Short-term respite care services or adult day care services
  • End-of-life care services

Learning how to care for a person with dementia can be a long process of trial and error. But it doesn’t have to be an isolating experience. Talk to the senior care experts at Avista. We can help you navigate the ups and downs of caring for someone with dementia and walk you through our short-term respite care services and long-term assisted living and memory care services so that you can choose what’s best for your family.

Disclaimers: This article is for informational purposes only.

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