How Do You Care for an Elderly Person with Dementia?

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elderly man sitting on a bench outside

Caring for a dementia family member at home can come with many challenges. If you’re an adult child looking after someone with dementia, you may be unsure how to care for a family member with dementia

Are you a family caregiver wondering, “How do you care for an elderly person with dementia?”

Are you an adult child in need of some tips to help you in dealing with dementia parents?

Do you want to know how to find professional in-home caregivers who know how to help dementia patients?

Whether you’re a spouse who’s unsure how to cope when a loved one has dementia or an adult child caring for a parent with dementia at home, there are many dementia tips for carers to help you in caring for a relative with dementia.

Keep reading to gain insight into the difficulties involved in caring for someone with dementia and how to overcome them.

Note: Many different family members may find themselves helping someone with dementia. In this article, we’re specifically speaking to adult children. However, the information and tips will benefit anyone caring for someone with dementia, regardless of your relation to the individual with dementia.

Top Tips for Caring for a Parent with Dementia at Home

As an adult child, you most likely have your own life and responsibilities. You may have a job, a spouse, or kids of your own. But when your mom or dad develops dementia, the burden of care may fall on your shoulders.

As a caregiver to someone with dementia, there will be some challenges that arise along the way. The most common challenges that adult children face when caring for a relative with dementia are:

  • Communication
  • Behavior
  • Wandering
  • Sleeplessness

Below, we look at these four areas of difficulty in more detail. We’ll offer some dementia tips and tricks to help you in understanding and supporting someone with dementia.

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1. Communication

Learning how to communicate well with your parent who has dementia can be incredibly beneficial. Good communication can:

  • Make caregiving less stressful
  • Improve the quality of your relationship with your loved one
  • Enhance your ability to handle difficult behavior (more on this later)

Some ways to communicate effectively with your loved one include:

    • Set a positive mood: Your attitude and body language can have a more significant effect than your words. Try to make sure your facial expressions and tone of voice are respectful and calm when addressing your parents.
    • Speak clearly: Use simple words and phrases, and don’t be afraid to speak slowly or repeat yourself if needed. It’s also best to use specific names and places instead of pronouns (e.g., it, she, them). Avoid raising your voice too loud.
  • Ask simple questions: Ask one question at a time and refrain from open-ended questions—yes or no questions are the best to ask. You can also ask questions with clear choices, like “Would you like to drink water or milk with your lunch?”
  • Respond appropriately: Individuals with dementia are easily confused and can get reality mixed up. Stay away from trying to convince your loved one they’re wrong. Instead, validate their feelings and redirect them to the task or topic at hand.

Ultimately, communicating with a loved one with dementia involves exercising patience and simplicity. 

2. Behavior

Caring for a parent with dementia often means handling new behaviors

The changes in someone’s brain that lead to dementia can also alter their behavior and personality. Your loved one may begin to act in ways or do things they’ve never done before. 

One of the most critical points to remember is that you can’t necessarily change or alter your loved one’s behavior, but you can control your attitude and responses.

Here are some things to think about when dealing with dementia behaviors:

  • Accommodate the behavior: We just mentioned that you can’t control the behavior. However, sometimes you can accommodate it. For example, if your loved one wants to sleep on the floor of another room, place a mattress in that room.
  • Contact a medical professional: Your loved one’s physician may be able to shed light on some of the behavioral problems. Perhaps, a new medication they’re on is causing pain or some other adverse side effects.
  • Recognize that behavior has a purpose: When your loved one acts out, try to take a moment to think about what need or the desire they’re trying to meet. Maybe they start opening drawers and removing all the items. It could be that they’re trying to stay busy or be productive. If you can pinpoint a potential purpose, you can creatively think of a way to satisfy that desire.

Don’t overcomplicate things or let frustrations arise. Remain calm, stay positive, and be okay not always understanding what’s going on.

3. Wandering

Wandering (and getting lost) are two common symptoms people with dementia exhibit. 

Are you wondering what to do with a person with dementia who wanders?

It may not always be clear why your loved one is wandering, but there are ways to help monitor it and mitigate some adverse outcomes:

  • Purchase a monitoring device: Many different types of monitoring and tracking devices can help you keep an eye on your loved one. You can purchase and install an in-home monitoring system or get them a wearable GPS tracking device.
  • Regular exercise: Some people with dementia don’t mean to wander or get lost, they’re simply restless and need to move. Taking regular walks or partaking in other physical activities can help them use extra energy and minimize restlessness.
  • 24-hour in-home care: Nighttime is one of the more challenging times to monitor your loved one. Sometimes, someone with dementia will get out of bed to use the bathroom and end up wandering around the house or even outside. A 24-hour in-home care professional ensures that someone keeps an active eye on your loved one at all hours of the day.

People with dementia are highly prone to wander, especially in the later stages of dementia. Keeping an eye on your loved one at all times can be challenging. Getting professional in-home help is an excellent way to relieve some of the burdens of care and ensure someone is with your loved one at all times.

4. Sleeplessness

Sleeplessness is another one of the difficulties of caring for a loved one with dementia. Paired with wandering, insomnia can make caring for a dementia family member at home challenging.

Here are some dementia tips for carers looking after someone with sleeplessness:

  • Limit daytime naps: Napping during the daytime can make sleeping at night more challenging. Try to limit the number of daytime naps your loved one takes. If they do take a nap during the day, it’s best that they take it at the same time every day.
  • Establish a nighttime routine: Choose a time at night when you start getting ready for bed. A good nightly routine involves winding down with a calming activity (i.e., playing cards), turning off screens, and dimming lights. 
  • Schedule daily exercise: Just as walking and exercise help with wandering, they can also benefit individuals with dementia who suffer from sleeplessness. Expending more energy during the day often leads to more sleep at night.

Creating a consistent schedule can significantly help your loved one get into good physical and mental rhythms, which can ultimately lead to better sleep.

How to Get Expert Help Caring for a Relative with Dementia

Dealing with dementia parents comes with unique difficulties and challenges. Dementia affects memory loss and can also cause changes in behavior.

In this article, we listed four of the major difficulties involved in caring for someone with dementia:

  • Communication
  • Behavior
  • Wandering
  • Sleeplessness

We also provided some dementia tips and tricks for family caregivers to help answer the question, “How do you care for an elderly person with dementia?” 

But even with all this information and these dementia tips for carers helping someone with dementia, you may need professional assistance.

At Stowell Associates, we dedicate ourselves to supporting family caregivers and providing hands-on help to aging adults. We offer three services that can significantly benefit you if you’re unsure how to help seniors with dementia:

  1. Care Coaching: Care Coaching is a way for family caregivers to remotely talk with and get help from an expert elder care professional. You get 75 minutes of call time each month with a Care Coach who will provide you with valuable tools and resources to help you care for your loved one.
  2. Respite Care: For family caregivers who need help a few days a week, there’s respite care. Respite caregivers enter into you or your loved one’s home to assist your loved one with daily life tasks.
  3. 24-hour Care: If your loved one needs advanced care at all hours of the day, 24-hour is an excellent option. Trained caregivers will provide hands-on care to your loved one during the daytime and nighttime hours. 

Contact us today to talk with a Care Advisor and receive professional insight into the care that your loved one needs.

In-home elder care solutions in Southeastern Wisconsin

Contact us for a free consultation

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