Supporting A Loved One with Dementia: A Guide for Family Caregivers
Aging can present a whole host of overwhelming obstacles, and when a senior also has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, they often face even more challenges. If you’re a family caregiver, you likely have little or no experience in caring for a senior with neurocognitive decline. Oftentimes, the prospect of supporting a senior with dementia is daunting for family caregivers, and it’s natural to be unsure of just where to start.
Here are just a few key ways you can support a senior with dementia.
Learn how to Communicate Effectively
As Alzheimer’s disease or dementia progresses, your parent might respond better to certain types of communication. Knowing how to communicate effectively is an excellent way to support a senior with dementia, as it can be powerful in preventing or alleviating distress and anxiety.
Ways to improve communication with your loved one:
- Use short, direct sentences.
- Don’t speak too quickly.
- Allow them time to process and respond to questions without interrupting.
- Keep your tone patient and calm.
- Repeat what they say back to them to confirm your understanding.
Improve Home Safety
When caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, it’s easy to become preoccupied with providing the right memory care and neglect other important issues. There are certain challenges that are faced by most seniors regardless of whether they have dementia or not, and reduced mobility is perhaps the most common. If your loved one still resides in their own home, there are a whole host of steps you can take to keep them safe.
For example, you could:
- Install sturdy grab bars in risky locations like by the toilet or in the shower.
- Make sure staircases have good quality handrails, or install a stair lift.
- Remove tripping hazards and clutter from living spaces and walkways.
- Ensure everything they need is stored at an easily reachable height.
If your loved one is dealing with cognitive decline due to dementia, there are some additional alterations you can make in the home to improve safety, like labelling household objects. For example, clearly labelling taps as ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ could help prevent burns, as could locking away harmful chemicals if your loved one is no longer able to safely use these without supervision.
Creating strong color contrasts in the home’s décor can also be helpful, as seniors with progressing dementia may find it difficult to separate objects when interpreting what they see. This can put them at a higher risk of injuries caused by disorientation and falls.
Help Out with Errands
Whether it’s due to reduced mobility or memory loss, running daily errands may become much more difficult for your loved one as they age. Things that might have once seemed simple like buying groceries or sending a letter can become monumental, energy-zapping tasks for seniors. If your loved one has reduced mobility, for example, they might struggle to travel, walk around or push a cart.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may not be able to successfully remember what they need from the shops, or might find themselves going back and forth without achieving what they initially set out to do. This can have repercussions for their confidence, safety and even finances. If you or another family member lives nearby, accompanying your loved one or doing these tasks for them can be a huge weight lifted.
Help Them to Socialize
Illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia can be socially isolating for seniors. Despite changes in cognitive ability, seniors should be able to enjoy socialization and hobbies they love for as long as possible. Therefore, facilitating continued social interaction and participation in enjoyable activities is a great way to support them.
This could be done by arranging regular visits from family members, taking your loved one on trips or enrolling them into a group or class. If your loved one moves to a memory care facility in San Antonio, these communities often have accessible, on-site groups and activities to help seniors stay socially connected.
Consider Their Finances
For any aging senior, but particularly for those with dementia, keeping on track of finances can become difficult. It’s not uncommon for seniors with cognitive decline to forget to pay bills and end up being fined, or to fall victim to scams that prey on vulnerable people.
If your loved one’s memory and judgement have drastically declined, it might be worth exploring the possibility of taking care of their finances for them. This can be a tricky conversation to have, but if it prevents your loved one from losing their hard-earned savings, it’s one worth having.
Discuss Professional Memory Care
While there are certainly steps you can take to support a senior with dementia at home, conditions like Alzheimer’s disease are progressive, and seniors usually require professional care at some stage. Typically, this support is provided in a residential care home or assisted living facility in San Antonio that specializes in memory care.
To find out how we work to support aging seniors with dementia and their family caregivers with professional memory care, get in touch today to arrange a tour.
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