According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.”
Experts also warn that oftentimes dementia is incorrectly referred to as “senility,” especially with older patients. This is a widespread belief but is not correct as serious mental decline is not a normal part of aging. People suffering from dementia could experience problems with short-term memory, keeping track of things (like keys, a wallet, or if they paid their bills or prepared dinner), remembering appointments or may even wander out of the neighborhood or another familiar place. For more information about elderly care and home service for the elderly, visit Options In-Home Care today.
Caring for Someone with Dementia
Caring for a loved one who suffers from dementia can be a long and exhausting road. The Family Caregiver Alliance National Center on Caregiving offers a great guide to understanding dementia behavior associated with elderly individuals. Caring for an ill loved one is difficult under any circumstances but when that person has difficulty remembering, communicating, and thinking clearly, it gets even more difficult.
The experts at the Center of Caregiving recommend that improving your communication skills will help make the caregiving process less stressful and can improve the quality of your relationship with your loved one. It’s not an effortless process to learn how to communicate with a family member suffering from dementia, but there are some tips to help smooth the way.
- Positivity is key. It’s important to set a positive mood with your attitude and body language. Use facial expressions, tone of voice and physical touch to help communicate your message of love and understanding.
- Get their attention. Before even trying to speak, limit the distractions in their surroundings and make sure you have their full attention. Speak to your loved one by name and make sure you are communicating at eye level.
- Be clear. Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. Communicate clearly with simple words and sentences and speak slowly and try not to raise your voice.
- Keep it simple. Ask just one question at a time and try to keep it at “yes” or “no” answers. Don’t’ ask too many questions at once or open-ended questions.
- Listen carefully. Be patient and watch for nonverbal cues and body language.
- Break things down. Tasks become easier when you break things up into steps they can follow. Provide gentle reminders when necessary.
- Distract and redirect. It’s common for those suffering from dementia to become agitated and upset so try to change the subject or the environment when this happens.
- Respond appropriately. Dementia sufferers often feel confused and anxious so make sure you are responding with love, affection and reassurance.
- Remember the past. Reminiscing can be soothing and affirming so don’t be afraid to remember events from years past.
- Keep your sense of humor intact. Laughter really can be the best medicine so don’t be afraid to laugh with your loved one, just never at their expense.
If you are caring for an elderly loved one who is suffering from dementia, there are some additional resources that could be helpful as you navigate this difficult road:
- Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center
- Eldercare Locator
- Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return Program
- Alzheimer’s Association
- Family Caregiver Alliance National Center of Caregiving
Home Care Service for the Elderly
Options In-Home Care provides home care service for the elderly. From meal preparations to daily prescription reminders, the caregivers of Options In-Home Care ensure that the elderly are well taken care of at home.
In-home caregivers help the elderly remain independent while providing assistance whenever needed. Get in touch today with one of our certified nursing assistants.