It can be difficult and confusing when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia and can change the dynamic of important relationships.
Below are some tips to help with caring for someone with dementia.
Communication can be very challenging for a person with dementia, they may find it difficult to communicate more and more as their dementia progresses. Care UK have a fantastic guide to communication here.
- Maintain eye contact and give your loved one your full attention.
- Smile and stay positive when you communicate with them.
- Try to avoid closed questions.
- Stay patient as your loved one may struggle to find the words to communicate with you or may become repetitive.
Adapt their home
There are some ways to help a person with dementia find it easier to manage independently at home; the NHS also have some ideas on how to make a home more dementia friendly.
- Leave bathroom and kitchen doors open or place signs on the door so your loved one knows what’s on the other side of the door.
- Make sure their home is well lit so they can see clearly in the home.
- Use contrasting colours to make objects stand out, for example use a toilet seat which is a different colour to the toilet or place a colourful strip around a light switch so it’s more noticeable.
- Removing cupboard doors so your loved one can quickly see the contents may also be helpful for them.
Make sure they eat and drink enough
It is important to make sure your loved one is eating and drinking enough. A person with dementia may not realise they are hungry or thirsty, may not recognise familiar food or just refuse to eat; this can lead to malnutrition, weight loss and put them at risk of illness. A helpful guide from Dementia UK can be found here.
- Be patient, allowing extra time for meals.
- Place fluids in a clear, easily recognisable glass or cup and leave within their reach.
- Offer food that is easy to eat without cutlery if they now struggle with a knife and fork, or softer foods if they are having difficulty chewing.
- Prepare food that looks and smells appetising to encourage your loved one to eat.
Keep them independent
Just because your loved one struggles in one area does not mean they struggle in all areas, it is important that they stay as independent as possible for as long as possible. Remember that they are still the same person that they always were; the Alzheimer’s Society also have some very useful tips on staying independent.
- A regular routine may be helpful, a calendar or planner displaying your loved one’s routine can be useful in helping them remember their daily tasks.
- Let them choose what they want to eat and what they want to wear as much as they can.
- Help them feel included and don’t speak on their behalf if they are able to speak for themselves.
- Never assume that they can’t carry out tasks; offer help if needed but ‘do with’ not ‘do to’.
Your loved one may find it reassuring to plan ahead for their treatment and care while they still can. They may wish to name someone they trust to have lasting power of attorney or create an advance statement, stating their likes and dislikes and what kind of care they wish to receive as their dementia progresses. Dementia UK have a wide range of resources to help you and a loved one plan for the future.
- Talk to them about the future; you may need to discuss uncomfortable subjects but it’s far better to have these conversations while they are still able to express their wishes.
- Make sure everyone involved in your loved one’s care is aware of their wishes and preferences.
If you or a loved one live with dementia and could use a helping hand, please call Plum Care for a friendly chat. We have an exceptional team of carers who are fully trained to care for individuals living dementia.