Caring for loved ones with dementia: practical advice and support

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenging, but incredibly important role. Navigating dementia care is far from easy, and certain strategies should be put in place to help you provide effective, compassionate care that can make a real difference to your friend or family member’s quality of life. Here are some practical pieces of advice to help you and your loved one.

1, Increase your understanding of dementia

Developing your understanding of dementia is crucial to providing good care. Learn how to spot dementia’s early signs, and how the condition progresses over time to help you anticipate your loved one’s needs and behaviours, and how these are likely to change over the months and years ahead. This in turn means you can start to plan for the future, including when it’s the right time for a person with dementia to move into a care home.

2, Establish a routine

Routine is essential for individuals with dementia. Consistent daily schedules help reduce confusion and anxiety, so try to keep meal times, bathing, and bedtime consistent. Simple activities like walks, puzzles or listening to music also make great additions to the daily routine, helping anchor your loved one within a daily structure and maintain a sense of normalcy.

3, Communicate compassionately

Communication can become challenging as dementia progresses. Focus on using simple, clear language and maintaining eye contact when speaking to your loved one. Avoid asking complex questions or giving multiple instructions at once. Instead, break tasks into smaller, manageable steps and offer choices rather than open-ended questions. Patience is key, so make sure you always give the person ample time to respond.

4, Create a safe environment

Safety is a top priority for those with dementia, and you can take action to help keep them safe in the home. Remove potential tripping hazards like loose rugs and ensure that walkways are clear. It can be a good idea to install handrails in critical areas like bathrooms and staircases, too. Lock away potentially dangerous items such as medications, cleaning supplies and sharp objects. As dementia progresses, you could consider using labels or signs to help your loved one navigate the home more easily and independently.

5, Encourage independence

While it’s important to provide assistance, encouraging independence can boost your loved one’s self-esteem and well-being. Allow them to do as much as they can on their own, even if it takes longer than if you were to do it. Simple tasks like dressing or setting the table can provide a real sense of accomplishment. Offer support and guidance, but step in only when necessary.

6, Be prepared for behavioural changes

Behavioural changes are common in those with dementia, especially in the middle or late stages of the condition. Your loved one may become agitated, anxious, angry or start to wander off. It’s key to remain calm and try to understand what’s caused the behaviour. Are they in pain, hungry, or uncomfortable? Redirect your loved one’s attention to a different activity or environment where possible, and try to create a calm, reassuring atmosphere with minimal distractions.

If you think your loved one might benefit from professional care, whether at home or in a residential centre contact Wessex Care today.

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