Looking after an elderly relative who is suffering from dementia can be a significant challenge. It can cause emotional stress, exhaustion for the carer, and a host of difficulties and health concerns for the relative in question. If your relative has recently been diagnosed with dementia, or if they’ve been suffering for some time, this guide may help give you some pointers on how to cope.
Get professional support. Once dementia becomes more advanced, providing care at home can become increasingly challenging. At-home nursing support is an option, but can be an expense that not all families are able to afford. If your relative needs more care than you’re able to provide at home, you should consider looking into respite care camberwell so they’re able to receive expert round-the-clock care and companionship from supportive professionals who understand the condition well.
Work on your communication skills. Because dementia has a severe impact on your relative’s ability to communicate with others, it’s important that those caring for the sufferer are able to respond in a helpful way to improve the process of communication. Try to speak simply and clearly so that your words are easily understandable, and use a friendly and positive tone of voice to communicate warmth and affection. If your relative seems to be agitated or upset in some way, try to validate their emotions rather than pretending you haven’t noticed so they feel comfortable expressing themselves freely.
Handle agitation carefully. Agitation is a common symptom of dementia, and it can become particularly pronounced in situations where a transition is occurring, or if they’re in unfamiliar surroundings. This can become even more difficult if your relative requires a trip to a hospital or is moving to a new home. Agitation can be difficult for everyone involved to handle, but there are certain steps you can take to help, like avoiding situations where the agitation could occur, minimising your relative’s exposure to over-stimulating experiences, and helping him to do things that might become difficult instead of expecting him to do them without support.
Create a safe, contained environment. One particular danger with dementia sufferers is that they might become confused and walk out of the house alone without alerting anyone of their whereabouts. This can be particularly dangerous if they get up at night (which may happen, as dementia can affect sleep patterns). Make your home safe by installing blocking systems on doors and creating an alarm system on the relative’s door that will alert you if they unexpectedly leave. You can also give them an ID bracelet with their information so you can be contacted if they get lost.
Look after yourself. Caring for someone with dementia, particularly when the disease becomes more advanced, can be extremely difficult and could certainly cause a degree of burnout for the carer. Access support groups in your area to connect with others who are in a similar situation, and reach out for help from your local doctor for advice about how best to cope in the circumstances. You may find that getting other trusted and well-informed family members involved and creating an aged care team in the home takes the pressure off of you and allows you to take some time for yourself to rest and unwind.