Everyone ages; this is simply a fact of life. We all get older, and this is something that we know and accept – but what if one of your family members gets older and acquires dementia at the same time? Dementia is a condition that is not easily understood; it is not just ageing and ‘forgetting’ things – it is more than that. Dementia is a progressive condition, which means that it often worsens over time. If your loved one is struggling with dementia, they need all the love, reassurance, and care they can get. How do you care for someone with dementia in your family? Here are some pointers which can help you.
When someone has dementia, you may notice a slight change in the way they communicate. For instance, they may find it more difficult to express themselves and may have trouble remembering a word or understanding what you are saying. In order to better communicate with your loved one, it is important to remain calm whilst they are speaking and give them time to respond. Use shorter sentences and simpler words, especially when you are telling them what you will do or are planning to do. This is particularly useful if someone is visiting – tell them who the person is and how they are related to this person. Touch is also an important factor when communicating; it helps calm them and makes them feel loved.
Dealing with mealtimes and food
People with dementia can sometimes forget or neglect to eat, and this is why their drinking and eating habits need to be monitored. It’s best to offer them regular snacks about 5 to 6 times a day rather than 3 big meals. If you feel that it will help, you can also use an alarm or a telephone call so as to remind your loved one when it’s time to eat. It’s also a good idea to serve them food which they know and are familiar with – especially something that they’ve grown up with or they see as ‘comfort food’. If your family member is having trouble using cutlery, it may be better to give them food which they can eat with their fingers.
Seeking help from a professional
As the condition progresses, you may find it better to seek help from a professional. Fortunately, there are many professional agencies offering dementia care at home, allowing your loved one to stay in their own environment and get the professional yet friendly and empathetic care they need. When looking for professional help, make sure they understand your loved one’s complete situation and ask them if they have had experience with other dementia patients as well.
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