Dealing with dementia is hard either for the person suffering it and everyone who surrounds them. It is important that caregivers and family members learn to deal with specific situations typical of the disease. Understanding this fact is key to making the caring process more bearable. Here are five tips for anyone that carries this task.
1. Accept their reality and go along with it
The main thing to understand is that people with dementia have a brain disorder which they cannot control or change, so the only solution is to go along with it. As we cannot change their inside world, the only thing left is to adapt the external world to their needs and their reality. Someone with dementia might think they have to do something they don’t have to like maybe they have an appointment with a doctor. It is better to ask them about the appointment, who the doctor is, and let the conversation flow.
2. Arguing doesn’t help
The person might begin saying things that are not true and making up stories. This can be very frustrating and our natural instinct is to correct them or argue with them, but it is simply impossible to convince someone with dementia that they are wrong, and arguing can lead to more stressful situations. People with dementia can no longer think logically, so it’s better to remain calmed and, as we mentioned before, go along with it.
3. Be affectionate
Dementia can make someone feel confused and anxious. It is very easy for them not to know the difference between what is real and what is in their head. When this happens, it is important to evaluate what feelings they are demonstrating and respond with affection and support.
4. Do some brain exercises
Though it does not cure dementia, doing brain exercises can slow down the deterioration of the brain and reduce its symptoms. With this kind of diseases, brain health becomes a top priority. Also, physical exercises and engaging in stimulating activities can also be beneficial.
5. Study their behavior
Every action is triggered by something and has a purpose. This means that their behavior happens for a reason and is trying to fulfill a need. Changes in their conduct can be caused by changes in their environment or something someone did or said, and then, their following actions would be directed towards responding to a particular need. It is important to observe what caused that behavior and what need they are trying to meet, so we can adapt their environment and make them feel comfortable.
If you want to learn more about taking care of people with dementia, don’t forget to buy the book “10 Helpful Hints for Carers: practical solutions for carers living with people with dementia,” edited by Professor June Andrews and Professor Allan House.