According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 55 million people live with dementia worldwide. Each year, approximately 10 million more cases are reported. Living with dementia or with a family member with dementia can take a tremendous toll on families. The nature of the chronic condition leads to significant deterioration over time.
For caregivers of those with dementia, the role comes with many challenges when working with older adults. Elderly persons with dementia have a unique set of needs that a caregiver can accommodate. According to a recent study by The National Alliance of Caregiving, there are several special circumstances experienced by caregivers of a loved one with dementia.
Caring for Someone with Dementia
Be patient with yourself when learning how to care for a loved one with dementia. Dementia is a unique condition, which can make people respond in unexpected ways. In addition, dementia looks different to everyone.
Depending on the stage of dementia, a person may have varied symptoms they experience. Beyond memory loss, a person with dementia may experience confusion, repeated questions, wandering, trouble to sleep, and many other signs. Knowing what to look out for can help you best prepare to care for a person with dementia.
5 R’s of Dementia Caregiving
The following “5 R’s of Dementia Caregiving” device is a tool designed to help manage interactions when caring for a person with dementia.
- Remain Calm: When interacting with a person with dementia, it’s not uncommon for things to get heated. Don’t try to argue or reason, as a person may become more confused. Simply take a deep breath and think for a minute before responding.
- Respond to Feelings: Validation is an important technique to master as a caregiver. This involves placing a heavy focus on emotions and less on the factual conversation. Part of caring for a person with dementia is validating how they are feeling, even if it may not be based on facts.
- Reassurance: Providing reassurance for a person with dementia is important to make them feel safe. This can be simply a head or body gesture or words of encouragement. People with dementia often feel scared and confused. Therefore, providing reassurance can help them.
- Remove: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, be patient with yourself. It is normal to feel this when caring for someone with dementia. If needed, take deep breaths and take breaks when needed. At times, you may feel you need to step out of the room to regain your composure. This can help ensure you don’t lash out or resent your loved one.
- Return: During episodes, it may be necessary to allow your loved one to work it through. Return to the situation when your loved one begins to settle down.
Find Resources for Support
Finding support when caring for someone with dementia can help. You don’t have to go at this alone! Your loved one’s doctor may be able to provide additional resources to help you better understand the disease and how it affects a person’s abilities. Further, you may find many helpful resources for free online through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Talking with caregivers or families experiencing the same struggles may help you feel at ease. Find local support groups in your community or look online for resources for dementia support groups.
Dementia caregivers have a hard road to travel, but they don’t have to go it alone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by caring for your loved one with dementia, we can help. Prioritizing your self-care as a caregiver is important to maintain a high level of care for your loved one.
Simply Compassion offers highly trained home care workers who specialize in dementia care. We understand the needs of dementia patients can get tricky. To help, we hire caregivers with dementia specialties to help seniors with dementia live more balanced, healthy, and safer lives in their homes.