Caring for a parent or family member who is suffering from dementia is never easy. This destructive disease takes its toll not only on the victim’s mind, but also on that person’s family and friends. If you’ve become a caregiver for an individual with dementia, it’s essential that you develop strong care strategies. Consider these three basic guidelines.
Respond to Aggression or Distress with Reassurance
One of the most difficult aspects of caring for a loved one with dementia is dealing with aggression. As the disease progresses, parents who never raised their voices may become verbally aggressive and even physically violent. Understanding that this might happen is key to tempering your reaction. Remember that it’s essential not to respond with aggression or anxiety.
Instead, step in and make sure that your loved one isn’t going to cause self harm or hurt another individual. Then, step back and evaluate the situation. Remember that your loved one doesn’t have control over these outbursts. Aggression and distress in dementia patients are often caused by discomfort, confusion or depression. Figure out what’s at the root of aggressive outbursts, and try to eliminate it.
Realize There Are No Perfect Caregivers or Patients
Being a caregiver is a tough job. You likely second guess yourself or beat yourself up mentally for mistakes you’ve made. It’s important to realize that there is no such thing as a perfect caregiver. Do what you are able to care for your loved one, but don’t dwell on failures for too long.
It’s important to remember that there are no perfect dementia patients either. As the disease progresses, your loved one may do increasingly careless things. It’s important to cope with the reality that the person you care about can’t make rational decisions anymore. Don’t become upset or berate your loved one when confronted with a frightening or difficult situation. Focus on restoring calm and balance even if that means telling a therapeutic fib.
Ask for Outside Help
Caring for a loved one who is suffering from dementia can be emotionally overwhelming. It’s important that you don’t take on the entire burden of caring for an aging parent or family member. Working with a reputable caregiver agency is a wonderful way to ensure that your loved one is cared for while allowing you time to focus on your own home and work life.
In home care providers who have experience working with dementia patients can help provide caregivers with peace of mind. Instead of worrying about your loved one while you’re at work or running errands, you can relax in the knowledge that a competent professional has everything under control at home. Letting someone else take care of your loved one from time to time will help you maintain your sanity and balance so that you’re well prepared to deal with the challenges dementia brings.