Nearly one million people in the United Kingdom have now been diagnosed with dementia, in fact almost 20% of people over the age of 80 will suffer from the disease. For every new person who hears this diagnosis, many more people will find themselves in the difficult position of caring for someone suffering from memory loss and other issues. Whether this person ends up in a care home or you are looking after them at home, here are some of the best tips to bear in mind if you find yourself in this position.
1) Expect things to change
People mainly think of memory loss immediately when they consider dementia, but it’s important to know about the other behavioural changes someone will probably experience with the illness. Anything from exercise to simple daily activities like getting dressed could quickly become difficult for your loved one to deal with alone, and it may be up to you to help them overcome the inevitable frustration and feel supported.
2) Stay calm
When suffering with dementia, it’s extremely common for people to express anger, stress and frustration due to the increasing difficulty of what used to be simple tasks. It can feel very isolating and cause people to lash out unfairly, but the worst thing you can do is react negatively to this. As a supporting friend or family member it can be frustrating too, but if you’re able to hold it together for the sake of the person suffering you will help them a lot more.
3) Don’t take over too much
For dementia patients it becomes necessary in most cases for them to have more help with day-to-day activities than they needed before, which can be a difficult process to go through for anyone who values their independence. Be careful not to make this worse by doing things for that person, and make a problem into an opportunity for you to solve it together rather than taking too much control away from them.
4) Communicate well
Normal conversations might suddenly be more difficult, so it may be necessary to come up with creative solutions to ensure you and your loved one can still communicate effectively with minimal frustration on both sides. Body language and more visual cues are good ways of adapting your daily routines to make everything easier to understand.
5) Ensure you have support available too
It can be easy to put the other person first for some people when they inadvertently become carers, but it’s vital to make some time for your own wellbeing and making sure you have the right emotional support around you. Spend time with friends and family as well as on your own to make sure you don’t bottle up all your own feelings. If you need more support there are plenty of resources and organisations around to help.