Caring for a person living with dementia is not an easy task. Carers or caregivers refer to persons who offer support, either part time or full time (these can be unpaid relatives or friends or formal, paid care providers). Support may take the form of medication administration, company on doctor’s visits, running errands or practical nursing care.
Here are some tips to help you manage your caring role:
1. Communicate clearly
- make one point at a time
- use simple words
- minimize distractions and noise – such as television or radio – to help the person focus on what you are saying.
2. Dealing with personal hygiene
- Respect that bathing may be scary and uncomfortable for some persons with AD.
- be gentle and respectful of their wishes.
- Use products that the person is accustomed to.
- develop a routine.
3. Engage and encourage
- get the person involved in meaningful activities.
- make the activities simple so that the person will succeed at it.
- watch for signs of agitation and frustration with an activity. Gently help or distract them.
- praise the person for doing the activity.
- encourage physical activities. Spend time outside as much as possible.
4. Consider Safety
- keeping the person safe is the most important aspect of care giving.
- keep a recent picture of the person.
- notify neighbours in advance that the person has a tendency to wander.
- Ensure that breakable or dangerous items are kept out of reach
5. Do not argue
- The person is experiencing a different reality from you. Arguing with them will only make things more difficult. Instead, distract them or go along with the conversation.
6. Slow Down
- Care requires lots of patients and a calm demeanour.
- Plan ahead and stay organised
- Know when you need a break and plan ahead so that you can get it
- The person with dementia will notice your emotional state, body language and tone of voice.
8. Talk with others
- Do not feel guilty if you get frustrated, or feel unappreciated. This is normal among caregivers.
- Talk to others who can help, or who can just listen without judgement.