Looking after seniors with dementia comes with several unique challenges. Cognitive impairment impedes the patient’s ability to speak coherently, so they can’t express their needs and demands. As a caregiver, you must advocate for your patient. Speak and act on their behalf to ensure they meet their daily needs and claim their privileges.
Don’t worry if you have zero experience with dementia patients. We understand that studying best practices for dementia care for the first time can feel overwhelming. However, self-study isn’t your only option. To help you provide the best care for dementia patients, we’ll flesh out the most crucial caregiving points.
Most patients don’t know that they have dementia. Cognitive impairment prevents one from thinking critically, making objective decisions, and registering new information. As such, the patient’s families would have to advocate for them.
If your loved one starts showing signs of dementia, encourage them to visit a medical professional. Self-diagnosis never yields helpful results. Although the internet gives us access to several reputable sources of information, it cannot replace a medical degree.
Also, consult dementia care advisors about the patient’s caregiving needs. Dementia patients might still be able to function relatively well during the early stages. However, once the symptoms worsen, even simple tasks like taking a bath, cooking meals, and taking medication would go overlooked.
Many people study how to take care of dementia patients themselves to save money. Dementia patient care is expensive. Also, most patients live 10 to 20 years after diagnosis, so your medical bills could add up to hundreds of thousands if you don’t manage them properly.
However, this doesn’t mean you should automatically provide caregiving services yourself. Your loved ones need the best care for dementia patients to maintain a good quality of life despite their condition. Don’t consider caregiving unless you have experience providing care for patients with dementia.
To minimize expenses, review your healthcare and insurance plans. See if you have any ongoing policies that cover dementia treatment and maintenance plans, then clarify which of your household members can utilize these benefits.
As mentioned above, dementia patients often live 10 to 20 years post-diagnosis. However, their condition will likely worsen, so taking care of elderly with dementia in the late stages will require more technical skills and medical know-how. Basic caregiving services are no longer enough.
Start planning for long-term maintenance as early as possible to ensure your dementia-stricken loved one gets the necessary support. Remember: the level of care needed for dementia patients evolves. You’ll compromise your loved one’s overall quality of life if you get caught off guard and unprepared.
Apart from providing daily care for patients with dementia, you also need to overhaul their living space. Patients with cognitive impairment can no longer function as well. Exposing them to hazardous items like kitchen utensils, handyman tools, and gardening equipment lying around puts them at risk.
Support your dementia-stricken loved ones with the different tasks they perform throughout the day. Even simple tasks like bathing and toileting could lead to grave accidents, so patients should generally have at least one caregiver monitoring them.
Caregivers tend to overlook their needs. Since patients require 24/7 support, they have to make themselves available. This habit might seem admirable. However, overworking yourself to exhaustion does more harm than good.
Taking care of a dementia patient will drain you physically, emotionally, and mentally, so please take a break now and then. Look for a part-time caregiver who can fill in during your days off from work. Meanwhile, you can book your patient for respite care services if you plan on taking longer breaks for trips and vacations.
What is the best care for dementia patients? There is no one-size-fits-all solution on how to take care of patients with dementia, but you can pick up some valuable points from what other caregivers commonly ask.
Always respond with kindness and patience. Don’t hold their memory loss against them, avoid discussing their worsening condition in front of them, and use shorter, simpler sentences when talking.
Dementia patients know they feel confused, but they probably don’t understand why. As the condition progresses, a patient may no longer distinguish the symptoms that come with dementia.
Sundowning refers to the emergence of symptoms in the afternoon or evening. Daylight triggers some dementia patients. However, in many cases, sundowning arises when the patient feels hungry, irritated, or bored but cannot express themselves.
Please understand that you and your family don’t have to take on the role of a caregiver yourselves. Providing care for patients with dementia is definitely challenging. And haphazard caregiving yields negligible benefits. If you have doubts about your capacity to offer dementia patient care, don’t hesitate to consult a dementia care advisor.
Ask for support. Professionals know the care needed for dementia patients to maintain a good quality of life despite their cognitive impairment. Trust us—taking care of dementia patients is exhausting physically and mentally. You can’t expect to advocate for your loved one if you have zero knowledge of their needs, preferences, and demands.
Is it your first time taking care of a dementia patient? Senior Strong can help you learn the ropes! Check out our helpful post on what caregivers ask memory care facility staff members.