Do you need help with caring for someone with dementia? Are you seeking strategies for dealing with dementia patients?
For family of dementia patients without trained experience, navigating dementia behaviors and interventions can be difficult. Caring for a loved one with dementia may feel overwhelming and even isolating at times if you don’t know how to respond to dementia behaviors.
Often, family caregivers find coping with dementia as a carer easier during the early stages of dementia when symptoms are mild. However, as dementia progresses and symptoms worsen, dealing with dementia behaviors and caring for a loved one become more challenging.
If you’re looking after a loved one with dementia and want to know how to deal with a person with dementia kindly, we’re here to help.
Let this article be your caregiver’s guide to dementia and your reference while working with people who have dementia. We’ll share ten helpful tips to make the experience easier for both you and your loved one.
Understanding Dementia for Caregivers
Knowing how to deal with a person with dementia starts by educating yourself on the condition.
Dementia is a general term used to describe a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. It can impact memory, thinking, communication, and the ability to perform everyday tasks.
Though dementia impacts millions of individuals every year, it affects each person differently. Unfortunately, there are no one-size-fits-all dementia tips and tricks to get you through this time, and coping with dementia as a carer can be challenging.
However, by understanding how to help dementia patients and caring compassionately for your loved one, you can help them live the remainder of their life to the fullest.
So, how do you care for an elderly person with dementia?
Read on for ten expert tips for dealing with dementia behaviors well.
10 Dementia Tips and Tricks for Caring for Love Ones with Dementia
Every caregiver should want to know how to help dementia patients achieve the best quality of life, even as their health declines.
The following ten strategies for dealing with dementia patients allow loved ones to feel as independent as possible while helping caregivers manage symptoms in a realistic way.
1. Start with Patience and Understanding
Patience and understanding are two key caregiver qualities.
If you’re ready to help with caring for someone with dementia, know your loved one will require continuous care as symptoms progressively worsen over time. You may notice your loved one growing more agitated or frustrated at their inability to complete tasks that used to come to them so easily.
Patience is critical when learning how to respond to dementia behaviors in the most positive and compassionate way.
2. Engage Frequently
Engaging with dementia patients doesn’t necessarily mean having conversations. Stimulate them by engaging in their favorite activities and spending intentional time with them where you’re fully in the moment.
Here are some beneficial brain exercises that may improve the mental well-being and cognition of dementia patients:
- Read a book aloud that they love
- Play a game that engages their mental skills
- Take a walk outside and enjoy their favorite scenic spot
- Organize manageable group activities like dancing or listening to music with the family of dementia patients
Research has shown that stimulating brain activity can help slow the progression of dementia, so engaging with your loved one can help prevent rapid dementia progression.
3. Make Their Environment Familiar
One of the most challenging things for dementia patients is coping with changes in their environment. Anything from a new caregiver to a rearranged room can cause great anxiety and confusion.
To help make your loved one’s environment feel more familiar and comforting, try to keep things as consistent as possible. Examples include:
- Maintaining a daily routine
- Using the same plates for each meal
- Hanging photos or keeping display items in the same spot
By maintaining a familiar environment, you’re helping to reduce your loved one’s chances of confusion.
4. Simplify Tasks Whenever Possible
Dementia patients often have trouble completing tasks that require a great deal of concentration and problem-solving.
Consider one of these dementia tips and tricks: before assigning your loved one a task, think about how you can simplify the process. Some suggestions include:
- Doing part of the work for them
- Using pictures to show what needs to be done
- Breaking the task into smaller steps
It’s still very important for your loved one to be given tasks to complete, so don’t do everything for them. However, it’s also necessary to ensure your loved one can manage and accomplish the task.
5. Reduce Stress as Much as You Can
Living with dementia can be incredibly stressful for both you and your loved one. One of the best ways of coping with dementia as a carer and helping your loved one is to try to eliminate sources of stress.
For example, you and your loved one can both benefit from a calm and relaxing environment, so reduce noise levels and avoid difficult conversations where possible. Another way to reduce stress might involve keeping extra frequently used items on hand in case your loved one misplaces an item.
Reducing stressful or frustrating situations can help you better focus on how to help dementia patients without extra distraction or pressure.
6. Manage Challenging Behaviors
Unfortunately, as cognitive function declines, dementia patients often exhibit challenging behaviors, ranging from verbal outbursts to physical aggression.
When managing dementia behaviors and interventions, always remember to stay calm and rational. There’s no “right” way to deal with these behaviors, but some strategies that may help include:
- Removing them from the situation
- Distracting them with a favorite activity
- Providing positive reinforcement when they exhibit positive behavior
It’s especially common for middle- or late-stage dementia to be accompanied with Sundowning, a rapid change in your loved one’s mood or behavior right before nighttime.
7. Respond with Kindness
Your loved one may not be aware of the severity of their actions, so always respond in a kind and understanding manner.
Remember, the progression of symptoms is frustrating for them, too, especially if they don’t understand what’s happening. Try your best to communicate that it’s something out of their control, but you’ll always be there for them.
8. Give Them a Role to Play
Dementia patients often feel as though they’ve lost their sense of purpose and place in life, resulting in feelings of low self-worth and depression.
To help combat negative feelings and provide your loved one with a sense of purpose, try giving them a role to play like helping with household chores or caring for a pet.
A sense of purpose can give your loved one increased confidence and energy.
9. Keep Them Active
Physical activity is an essential part of life. Unfortunately, dementia patients often become sedentary, leading to feelings of loneliness and boredom, and potentially causing subsequent health problems.
To help your loved one stay physically active, try encouraging them to participate in physical activity at least 2 or 3 times a week. Not only will this keep them healthy, but it can help with social interactions and reduce feelings of depression.
Exercise doesn’t need to be anything too serious. It can be as simple as taking your loved one on a 10-15 minute walk every day to get some fresh air.
10. Seek Professional Help When Necessary
Caring for someone with dementia and dealing with dementia behaviors is an incredibly difficult job requiring patience, love, and understanding.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone.
If you find that you’re coping poorly with dementia as a carer or that your loved one’s condition is progressing more rapidly than expected, it may be time to seek professional help.
A trained caregiving professional can provide tremendous help with caring for someone with dementia.
Get Expert Help with Caring for Someone with Dementia Today
So, how do you care for an elderly person with dementia when it just feels like too much?
While no dementia tips and tricks will take away the challenges caregivers face, they can help the family of dementia patients better cope with their loved ones’ conditions.
With our caregivers guide to dementia outlined above, you’ll be better prepared for:
- Working with people who have dementia
- Dealing with dementia behaviors
- Understanding dementia for caregivers
- Strategies for dealing with dementia patients
If you would like more information or need help with caring for someone with dementia, you can reach out to the Care Experts at Stowell Associates.
At Stowell, we work with seniors across Milwaukee, Kenosha, Racine, and Waukesha, WI to provide the best possible care for those affected by dementia. Our team of expert Care Managers and in-home Caregivers are ready to step in with the care your loved one needs. We’ll make a meaningful difference for your loved ones – that’s the Stowell promise.
Contact us today to talk with a Care Advisor. They can share more about how a trained caregiver can help relieve your caregiver burden and improve your loved one’s quality of life.
Or, if you’re outside of the Milwaukee, WI area but are interested in professional home care services, you can contact TheKey. They have locations in thousands of cities around the U.S.