When you have a loved one who is suffering from a form of dementia, be it Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, you may find yourself in an unfamiliar position. While you may have known your loved one for your entire life (or their entire life), you are now caring for someone with dementia who may seem like a different person altogether. If you are having trouble adjusting to being a caregiver for your loved one, get to know some of the ways that you can better provide that support while also taking care of yourself.
Do Not Take It Personally
The first thing to remember is that you cannot take anything personally. Your loved one may remember who you are and your relationship with them one minute and think you are a stranger the next. This is not their fault or yours, it is their dementia.
Because you have such a personal connection to the person you are caring for, it can be hard to take this step back and be objective, but it is important for your own well-being to do so. It also allows you to better go with the flow and avoid upsetting your loved one by trying to remind them of who you are.
Know Which Behaviors Are Truly Problem Behaviors
With dementia comes changes in behavior as well as memory. For example, your loved one may be convinced that you are their parent, friend from school, or any other person they have known throughout the years. While this line of conversation may be distressing to you, it is not necessarily a true problem behavior.
A problem behavior is anything your loved one with dementia does that could be detrimental to their health and safety or the health and safety of the people around them. Thus, if your loved one worked in a retail store and keeps folding and unfolding clothing thinking they are at work, this is not problematic. However, if they are being aggressive or violent or are engaging in activities that could be dangerous like using knives or trying to cook, then these are problem behaviors that you will need to intervene on and try to dissuade them from.
Try To Avoid Confronting Them
When your loved one is engaging in problem behaviors, your first instinct may be to intervene by any means necessary and this can include directly confronting your loved one. However, confrontation with a dementia patient usually does not do anything but upset them and you.
Rather than confront your loved one, try to divert their attention to another activity. You can also attempt to ground them, meaning you can try to trigger a memory that will take them out of the moment they are in. This can be a song, a photo, or simply bringing up a memorable vacation or the like.
An example would be if your loved one was a piano player when they were younger. If they are doing something dangerous or are agitated, you can ask them to play the piano for you or help you figure out a tune on the piano. This at once distracts and diverts them from their current mindset as well as grounds them.
Now that you know a few ways to improve your experience as the caregiver for your loved one with dementia, you can better take care of them as well as of yourself. Contact a business that specializes in caring for someone with dementia for more information.Share