Caring For Someone With Dementia

When it comes to caring for someone with dementia, whether that is a parent or spouse that you are caring for at home, or as a care professional, approaching the role armed with all the knowledge you possibly can is key - and not just for the patient’s sake. Caring for someone with a form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, is emotionally and mentally exhausting, and the thought of it is incredibly daunting. So knowing exactly what it is that you are letting yourself in for, and going in fully prepared, will ease a lot of the stresses and strains that are associated with such a role. We’ve put together some fundamental tips about caring for someone with dementia which we hope will help those who find themselves undertaking this challenging task maintain a positive yet realistic attitude, while also allowing you to keep an element of control and improve upon the care you provide.


Never Be Afraid To Ask For Help

This goes for any element of caring for the elderly - or caring in general for that matter! If you start to feel overwhelmed there is no shame in reaching out for help; whether that be to a professional body, or a friend or family member who is going through the same thing. A lot of people who are caring for a family member find support groups helpful, either one you can attend in person or online. These allow you to vent and voice your problems - and even frustrations - with people who understand what you are going through. It’s also a great place to share tips and resources regarding dementia or Alzheimers, and drawing from the experiences of others can be invaluable. Maybe you are a professional carer? This doesn’t mean that you are immune to these feelings or needs either, and there will definitely be times when speaking to a colleague or support group will be hugely beneficial to you too.

Empathising With The Patient

Understanding dementia or Alzheimer’s is one thing, but to really care effectively for those who are suffering from these conditions, empathy is one of your biggest tools. Care in general starts with compassion and empathy, and this rings even more true for those caring for someone who has dementia. Imagine how you would feel and how you would want to be treated if you were suddenly unsure of your own identity, the time period you were living in, and were disoriented and confused about your whereabouts….Tapping in to these feelings of fear, confusion and loneliness will really help when it comes to understanding the behaviour and reactions of those you are caring for.

Be Realistic

Anyone who has experience of caring for someone with dementia will tell you that patients will have good days and bad days, and you need to be realistic about what counts as ‘successful’ when it comes to the progression of this disease. Success is when the person you are caring for is happy, comfortable and safe. It’s important to remember that most types of dementia are progressive and irreversible, so it’s important to focus on the good days - and even the good moments - as a job well done.

Plan Ahead

When you are caring for someone with dementia, change is inevitable. The condition will progress and worsen, and eventually, if you are caring for someone at home, you will need to turn to the professionals. It’s important to plan for this - both financially and practically; when it comes to finding care options in your area. And planning isn’t just important for those who are caring for a loved one at home, professional carers also need to constantly reassess the care needs and health status of their clients with dementia as their care needs inevitably increase.

Understanding That It Means More Than Just Memory Loss

Although memory loss is the sign of dementia we all recognise and expect, there are some types of dementia that manifest as personality changes instead as the symptoms will depend on which area of the brain is affected; patients can suddenly develop difficult moods or strange behaviours, and as the disease progresses sufferers can become uncommunicative and unable to recognise loved ones, they might need help with the basic activities of dressing or using the toilet, or even become unable to move about.

Watching these changes, particularly in someone you love, is heartbreaking, but the more we understand about the illness, and the longer we are able to make the life of someone with dementia rich and fulfilled, that better carers we can all be.

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