Caring for a person with dementia can be frustrating and challenging, and at times overwhelming. However, the more you know about dementia and the resulting memory loss, the changes in behavior, the physical decline and the loss of judgment and reasoning, the better prepared you will be to care for someone with dementia.
When a diagnosis of early stage dementia is made, it is important to start making preparations for the future for when the dementia has progressed. With mild dementia, a person may have trouble recalling names and words, have difficulty learning and recalling new information, and may also have trouble with driving and other activities. She may also exhibit symptoms of depression, like anxiety, sadness, and may not experience pleasure in activities she once enjoyed. There are several questions you should consider when caring for a person with early stage dementia.
- Who will make financial and healthcare decisions when the person can no longer do it for herself?
- How will the care needs of the person with dementia be met? (Eventually the person will need 24-hour care).
- Where will the person with dementia live?
Set a Daily Routine
Setting a general daily routine can be helpful and can make the role of caregiving go more smoothly. It can also help the person who has dementia, since it will provide consistency in her life.
- In order to help orient a person with dementia, attempt to establish a routine and a time for doing certain activities, such as getting up in the morning, taking a bath, getting dressed, eating meals, having visitors, and so forth.
- If you sense the person does not understand what is going on, tell the person what she should expect. For instance, when it is morning and time to get up, you can open the bedroom curtains.
- Continue to keep the person as involved in daily activities as possible, such as dressing herself or other tasks she can perform without causing harm to herself or someone else.
When caring for a person with dementia, communication can become challenging, but there are things that can be done to make communication go more smoothly.
- Try to avoid becoming frustrated. Take a break when your patience is running thin.
- If the person with dementia doesn't understand what you are saying, try to say it another way.
- Talk slowly.
- Ask yes or no questions.
- Repeat yourself as much as possible.