According to the World Health Organization, there are around 50 million people who have dementia. The condition has become a major cause of dependency among seniors, many of whom live with family members who struggle with keeping their needs in check.
If you have a loved one who has dementia, you know for sure how difficult it is to help them remember important information, perform basic tasks, and handle mood swings. It can get stressful, but knowing the right steps to help a loved one cope with their dementia can make things easier for both you and the patient. Here are a few tips that can help you become an effective caregiver to a family member or a friend in need:
Be a good communicator
Knowing how to communicate well is crucial to caring for a person who has dementia. They may not understand a simple request or statement immediately, so it’s important that you utter each word clearly. Use simple words that they won’t have a hard time trying to decode. In case the patient doesn’t understand you, try rephrasing your message and include specific information. Instead of saying ‘It’s me, your son,’ say your name slowly. Give them a moment to recall and help them only when they are about to remember who you are.
Establish trust through your actions
In most cases, it’s how you present yourself in front of a dementia patient that encourages them to cooperate. No matter how close you are to your loved one, you need to realize that they can develop trust issues as a result of memory loss. For this reason, aim to establish trust through your facial expressions. Smiling goes a long way in helping your loved one become less anxious or reluctant to speak to you.
Stimulate long-term recollection
Dementia patients may not remember the smallest detail about their daily routine, but some may retain the ability to remember past events. Helping them recollect is a great way to stimulate their cognitive functions and help them relax. Make a daily habit of asking them about their fondest memories from ten or twenty years back. If they struggle to remember certain pieces of information, help them out by giving clues.
Use technology to your advantage
Technology can help support you in caring for a loved one who has dementia. Apart from communication aids and medical alert systems that come with location tracking, you can also use mobile games and videos to stimulate their mental functions. You can also use in-home cameras and remote health monitors to check on your loved one while you are away. Using the right tools, you can keep a loved one safe, prevent them from wandering off, and locate them when they do.
Taking care of someone who has dementia doesn’t have to be challenging. You only need to be patient and learn more about the condition, so you will know exactly what to do in helping them cope.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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