Caring for a senior loved one with dementia comes with a unique set of difficulties. For new caregivers, it can be difficult to anticipate the needs and interpret the emotions of someone with dementia. Here are six strategies for dementia caregivers who are concerned about their new responsibilities.
1. Don’t Argue
When your loved one starts to exhibit irrational behavior, it may be tempting to respond with logic. However, seniors with dementia rarely respond positively to reasoned arguments, and this strategy won’t stop your loved one’s behavior when he or she acts out. Instead, when your loved one behaves in inappropriate ways, you should simply reply using concrete facts. Tell your loved one where he or she is, what he or she is doing, and other straightforward details. This approach may be easier for your loved one to comprehend, and it may also have a mild pacifying effect.
If you are the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality home care, Wellesley Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.
2. Be Positive
Seniors with dementia may have difficulty following the thread of a conversation or reacting appropriately to social cues. However, they still understand attitude, and caregivers should always try to project a positive vibe. Use an appealing tone of voice, soothing facial expressions, and gentle physical touches to ensure the mood stays positive.
3. Encourage Independence When Possible
Oftentimes, performing everyday tasks for seniors with dementia is the quicker, easier option. However, if you tie your loved one’s shoes everyday for the sake of speed, he or she may lose that ability. While it’s important to make your loved one’s life easier, allow for moments of independence, as it can be a fulfilling experience for seniors.
Caring for a senior loved one can be rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming for family caregivers who have other responsibilities they need to focus on. For these families, the perfect solution is respite care. Wellesley families rely on our caregivers whenever they need time to rest, work, run errands, and even go on vacation.
4. Change the Subject
For new dementia caregivers, managing irrational, agitated behavior is often the biggest challenge. When your loved one starts to become nervous, try to alter the negative thought cycle. Changing the subject or embarking on a new activity can be an effective strategy in these situations. For example, if your loved one starts wondering why he or she is not at home, acknowledge his or her emotional state and redirect the energy. Ask your loved one if he or she would like to go for a walk, eat a favorite food, or help set the table. By breaking the negative thought cycle, you can help your loved one calm down.
5. Make Daily Activities Easier to Understand
Seniors with dementia often have difficulty with multi-faceted activities. To make things easier, break down tasks into simple steps. Visual gestures and sequential explanations are often helpful.
6. Embrace Brevity and Clarity
When speaking to your loved one, try to keep sentences simple and clear. Instead of using pronouns like “he” and “it,” refer to people, places, and things by their proper names. Repetition may be helpful if your loved one doesn’t understand the first time. Try to avoid using an exasperated tone of voice, as your loved one may pick up on emotional cues.
If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with dementia and you need additional help, consider hiring a professional caregiver. In Wellesley, Massachusetts, home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. Call us at (781) 239-0060, speak with one of our professional Care Managers, and create a high-quality care plan for your elderly loved one.