How to take care of someone with dementia
Before you dive into this reading, please know that it is vital to understand how dementia impacts a person. Giving yourself as the caretaker space to understand dementia will go a long way in caretaking for someone with dementia.
Caretaking for someone with dementia may mean that during certain days or occasions the friendliest words are not being said. You may hear comments that are hurtful and that can even feel like a direct attack. Please remember that the persons state of mind and the common symptoms that connect to it. The behaviors are connected to dementia and how dementia impacts the mind. It’s common for caregivers to share how the person with dementia used to share words versus currently. This gives you a strong idea of how dementia impacts the brain and behavior.
Caretaking holds a mixture of rewarding moments and others that can make a person feel beyond tired. When caretaking for someone with dementia, you may find yourself losing connection to the person’s prior identity. The longer you engage in caretaking, you may notice that the person’s memory is fading or that they are not able to do as much. This shift in life can be extremely challenging and one that you find yourself alone it. As the outside world continues to move, you feel that yours is going just a little bit slower.
Ways to be a caregiver for someone with dementia include:
Get to know the support persons. If possible, try to get to know the medical professionals and support persons connected to the individual with dementia. This can support addressing potential issues or identifying causes connected to behavioral challenges. For instance, you may notice that the person with dementia is frustrated and agitated. You try to identify why but struggle to get anywhere. You finally reach out and schedule a medical visit. The results come back that it was a urinary tract infection. At this point, you are able to connect the dots. Moving forward, try to get to know the medical professionals and support persons of the individual with dementia.
Try to create calmness.
As a caregiver for someone with dementia you may notice that there are times emotions and even behaviors shift. Such as going from 0 to 100. Try to create a space of calmness by using what is around you. This can take place by opening a window, putting on relaxing music, turning off the television, or counting to 20.
Take time to take care of yourself.
Consider today, how you are actively taking care of yourself as a caregiver. Working with a counselor can provide caregivers with tool and knowledge aimed to improve self-care. Common self-care practices for caregivers include creating healthy boundaries such as saying “no”, taking breaks during the workday, and engaging in exercise. Read more about self-care here for caregivers by clicking here.
Identify the trigger.
Most of us have triggers that provoke us to feel a certain way. It could be a sad movie creating the trigger that leads to tears. If you are a caretaker for someone with dementia, try to get to know the person’s triggers. This will help to address moments of frustration or agitation. Ways to identify triggers include taking time to create a list of what overstimulates the person, areas of discomfort, or when the person feels overwhelmed. The more time you spend on this area, the easier it will be to address the issue.
Practicing healthy boundaries.
As a caregiver, you find yourself in a position of difficulty when telling others “no”. You may find it challenging to ask for help. Today try to evaluate what boundaries you have in your life and how the boundaries show up in your space as a caregiver. The goal is to create boundaries that help you feel comfortable, confident, and healthy. Often a lack of boundaries can lead caregivers to experience burnout.
Giving the person independence and respect.
When you are a caregiver for someone with dementia, you may notice a shift in the person’s ability. For instance, you may notice that the person with dementia is not able to complete chores or hold memory as they did in the past. As time goes on, it is important to continue to create a space of respect and independence. This helps people feel whole and seen.
A support group or caregiver therapy.
One way to be a caregiver for someone with dementia is to place yourself in a space of learning. Visit a counselor that works with caregivers and ask questions. Try to join a therapy group for caregivers to understand ways to be of support or simply learn more.
What to say to a caregiver of a dementia patient?
If you are a family member or friend to a person that is a caregiver for a dementia patient, please take time to practice compassion. Caregiving whether it be caregiving to a person with dementia or caregiving to a family member is a challenging role. Take time to share kindness, ask if you can be of support, or provide positive support. Below is a list of what to say to a caregiver of a dementia patient:
- Please know that you can call me for support.
- I wanted you to know that we truly appreciate what you are doing.
- I care about you.
- I care about your wellness and happiness.
- The door is always open when you us.
- You can always say no or ask for a break. We understand and are here for you.
- I appreciate you and all that you do.
- I know that you are doing everything that you can. Thank you.
How to help dementia caregivers
If you have a friend or know someone that is a caregiver for a dementia peer or patient, please know that are ways to help them. A great place to start is with kindness and empathy. In addition, take time to research and understand what it means to be a caregiver. If you get stuck, below are ways to help dementia caregivers:
- Provide words of kindness.
- Give them breaks.
- Support their boundaries.
- Use your resources so that you are not overly relying on them.
- Ask how you can be of help.
Counseling for caregivers
Are you a caregiver searching for a counselor or psychologist? Counseling for caregivers is focused on creating a non-judgmental and safe space to nurture the goals that brought you to seeking counseling as a caregiver. Santos Counseling PLLC provides counseling for caregivers. Please call 336-663-6570 or email [email protected]. You can also schedule an appointment by clicking here. Counseling for caregivers is unbiased, a space that supports your goals, and created to fit your needs.
Counseling helps caregivers in the following ways:
- Reducing stress.
- Alleviating depression.
- Support with emotional conflict.
- Managing anxiety.
- Support during major life changes.
- Education on resources for caregivers.
Counseling For Caregivers Starts Here
I invite you to slow down and make time for yourself!
Our modern world can be extremely fast-paced and impersonal. I see counseling as an opportunity for you to slow down, take a breath, and take the time to understand what it is you want and need and how you can achieve balance and healing in your life. Also, having once been reluctant to try therapy, I understand how vulnerable you might feel expressing your emotions, and I make it a priority to build trust and support you at every step. My goal is for you to feel safe sharing with me and encourage you to do the work necessary outside of therapy to make the changes you desire. Schedule a counseling appointment with me today.