People responsible for taking care of their loved ones with dementia face several hurdles and difficulties. Dementia is described as the loss or malfunction of a person’s cognitive functions that interfere with their ability to do their daily activities. As a result, people with dementia will have difficulty remembering things, making decisions, communicating with other people, and taking care of themselves.
Dementia can even trigger mood swings and drastically alter someone’s personality, attitude, and behaviour. These challenges make it more difficult for caregivers to handle people with dementia. It can also affect the caregiver’s emotional and psychological well-being, especially if it is someone extremely close to the patient.
This article will give you an overview of dementia, its challenges, and how you can overcome them as a caregiver.
How to handle troubling behaviour
The greatest challenge of caring for a loved one with dementia is the changes in the person’s behaviour and personality. However, you can prepare yourself by changing your perspective. Try to be creative, flexible, patient and always keep your cool and sense of humour. The following are some of the most difficult hurdles you may experience:
- Incontinence. Loss of bladder control can be frustrating for both the patient and the caregiver. Moreover, unsupervised urine leaks can cause more complications like rashes and infection. You can try doing exercises that can strengthen their pelvic muscles and shop for incontinence products like adult pull ups, underwear and soap that can make the patient more comfortable.
- Wandering around. Several reasons can cause people with dementia to walk aimlessly, such as boredom or a side effect of a certain medication. Wandering around can be their way of satisfying an urge that they can’t figure out — the need to pee, thirst, or hunger. You can handle this by making time for regular exercise, putting barriers, extra locks and security measures. Additionally, you can make your loved one wear a bracelet with your contact information in case they wander around.
Trying to communicate with a person with dementia can be frustrating and emotionally draining at first. After all, you are not an expert right away. However, you can improve your communication skills, making caregiving more manageable and less stressful. Good communication can also come in handy when dealing with challenging scenarios in the future. You can remove communication barriers by doing the following:
- Listen with your eyes, ears, and heart. People with dementia often feel anxious, unsure, and confused. There will be times when their stories won’t make any sense to you but be patient and listen to them anyway. If they have difficulty verbalising their needs, encourage them by offering words or watching out for gestures and nonverbal cues. Through these, you can make them feel understood and loved.
- Keep everything simple. When dealing with people with dementia, it will help if you keep things simple. Use simple words, break down tasks into simple steps, and ask questions that are easy to answer. This will save you and the patient from frustrations and unnecessary stress.
- Remember the good memories. You should be emotionally ready to take trips down memory lanes. Remembering the good old days is a relaxing activity for patients with dementia, and it can help their cognitive abilities. Bring out old photo albums, videos, and trinkets that can bring back memories and stories.
Taking care of a person with dementia is not an easy job. So, ensure that you are knowledgeable enough to overcome challenges and barriers.