As the number of Australians diagnosed with dementia rises to 472,000, the chances of someone you know being impacted by this condition are ever-increasing. Furthermore, with 1.6 million Aussies dedicated to caring for those affected, it’s an issue that touches more lives than we might think.Yet, understanding dementia is one thing, but navigating its complexities when a loved one is affected can feel overwhelming.
So, what do you do when someone you know has dementia? What is the best way to communicate with them? What things can make the journey easier? What things should you avoid?
In this blog, we aim to empower you with practical and engaging strategies that can assist you when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia.
What things to do when your loved one has dementia.
1.Embrace the Dance of Adaptability:
Realise that dementia often means no two days are alike. Every day brings its own set of triumphs and challenges. Treating setbacks not as failures but as opportunities to learn and grow makes the journey more bearable.
2. Master the Art of Gentle Communication:
With traditional logic taking a back seat, aim for affirmative and constructive interactions. For instance, instead of debating over meal recollections, propose: “A fresh apple might be refreshing now, don’t you think?”
3. Dive into Their World:
Dementia might rewrite memories, but those memories are very real to the person experiencing them. Engage with their reality. If they reminisce about being a radio host, for example, ask about their favourite interview or chat about the ‘top hits’.
4. Celebrate the Small Moments:
A sense of purpose can be found in the simplest activities. Whether they find joy in buttoning their own shirt or enjoying the fragrance of freshly arranged flowers, celebrate these personal victories with them.
5. Keep Choices Simple yet Empowering:
Too many choices can be overwhelming. Instead, offer them manageable decisions to maintain their sense of autonomy: “Would you like toast or cereal this morning?”
6. Harness the Power of Community:
Connect with local organisations like Dementia Australia. They offer a goldmine of resources, shared experiences, and invaluable guidance, ensuring you’re never navigating this journey alone.
7. Stay Informed:
Australia is at the forefront of dementia research. By staying updated on the latest techniques and care strategies, you can integrate innovative practices that benefit your loved one.
8. Nostalgia as Therapy:
Tapping into familiarity can evoke comfort. Delve into their past, using old songs, classic Aussie films, or cherished family recipes to rekindle warm memories.
9. Safety First and Always:
The unsettling statistic that 60% of dementia patients might wander underlines the importance of safety. Technologies such as GPS tracking can be a lifeline, but always remember to keep updated photos and essential details handy as well.
10. Refuel Your Soul:
Caring for someone with dementia is a marathon, not a sprint. Prioritise self-care – whether that’s a quiet moment with a book, a walk in the park, or even a chat with fellow caregivers. Remember, to best care for them, you must first care for yourself.
What things to avoid when your loved one has dementia.
1.Arguing or Correcting:
Trying to convince them of certain realities can lead to frustration. It’s more beneficial to meet them where they are and redirect the conversation if needed.
2. Overloading with Questions:
Asking too many questions, especially ones that test their memory, can cause distress. Instead, make statements or narrate what you’re doing.
3. Using Baby Talk:
Even if they seem more childlike, they are adults and should be treated with respect. Use a calm, reassuring tone instead.
4. Neglecting Privacy:
Preserve their dignity by respecting their privacy, especially in situations like bathing or toileting.
5. Being Impatient:
Understand that they might need more time to process information or complete tasks. Always factor in extra time and don’t rush them.
6. Changing Routines Suddenly:
People with dementia often find comfort in routine. Try to keep changes to a minimum and introduce them slowly if necessary.
7. Neglecting Their Emotions:
Even if they can’t remember certain events or names, emotions linger. If they feel upset, acknowledge their feelings and provide comfort.
8. Isolating Them:
It might be challenging to take them to familiar settings as their condition progresses, but avoid keeping them isolated. Social interaction, even in small amounts, can be beneficial.
In conclusion, dementia can reshape the landscapes of our lives, but with knowledge, understanding, and compassionate strategies, we can provide a nurturing environment for our loved ones while preserving our own well-being. If you have a loved one that has dementia and you would like to talk about care for them, feel free to get in contact with us here or call us on 03 9070 8171.