Caring for an aging at-home family member with dementia can be challenging and stressful, as they sometimes forget the simplest things, including who you are. In addition, it can be hard to communicate with them, their moods change at the drop of a hat, and feelings of paranoia and fear are common.
When you’re tired and irritable, your senior loved one may sense your frustration and get triggered by your body language and tone. So, how can you keep a positive attitude while caring for a loved one with dementia? Using the following advice should help it go more smoothly.
Learn to “Speak Their Language”
Not getting through to someone with dementia is a huge obstacle that can be frustrating and stressful for you both, but using effective communication skills should improve the quality of your relationship. Once the barriers start coming down, it will put a smile on both your faces. Learn how to “speak their language” more positively using these pointers:
- Set a positive mood for interacting. Sometimes your attitude and body language send a more powerful message than do your words. Establish a positive mood by speaking to your loved one pleasantly and respectfully. Reassure them through your physical touch, facial expressions, and tone of voice.
- Get their attention. Before speaking to them, create a quiet environment by eliminating all distractions from the room, including noise and visual stimulation. Then, get their attention by addressing them by name, and reassuring them by identifying who you are, and how you are related. Use nonverbal cues and touch to keep them engaged, maintain eye contact, and physically move down to their level.
- Keep it simple. Speak simply, slowly, clearly, and reassuringly. Keep your voice pitch lower, and calmly repeat what you said if they seem confused. Ask simple questions that can be answered by a “yes” or “no”, like: “Would you like to go to the park today?”.
- Other speaking tips. In addition, always listen attentively, redirect the conversation if they become agitated, respond with positive reinforcement, keep a good sense of humor, and try getting them to recall positive memories.
Neutralize Negative Behaviors
There will be days when your loved one will direct negative, and even aggressive, behaviors towards you. Take a deep breath, and remember their condition. Keep a positive attitude by learning to use creativity, patience, and compassion to neutralize those negative behaviors. To do so, remember these tips:
- Love them for who they are. Realize that no matter how hard you try, you can’t change your loved one. For example, if they falsely accuse you of stealing from them, no matter how much it hurts don’t stop treating them with love and respect.
- Accept certain behaviors. Understand there’s a reason for their behaviors. Someone with dementia has trouble expressing their wants or needs, and then they get agitated. Sometimes, it’s another medical condition that’s affecting their behavior, so check with their doctor if that’s a concern.
- Identify triggers. Know that behaviors have triggers. Try to identify those triggers and make adjustments so that they don’t happen again.
- Change up the routine. Remember what worked today may not tomorrow due to the disease’s progression. You may have to make changes periodically to your routine to keep things going smoothly, and both of you happy.
Take Care of Yourself
Another way to stay positive and refreshed while caring for a family member with dementia is to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself in the process. When you start feeling tired and worn down, that will probably carry over to your caregiving. Don’t let that happen by using these steps:
- Get 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep every night
- Eat healthy and nutritious foods
- Don’t abuse tobacco, alcohol or prescription drugs
- Have your doctor do an annual physical on you
- Exercise routinely
- Celebrate caregiving break throughs by going out to dinner with your spouse, or buying that new pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on.
- Find a respite caregiver to fill in when you need a break.
Reliable Respite Home Care for Seniors With Dementia
Staying positive while caring for a senior family member with dementia is possible, but there will probably come a time when you need a break. When you do, a reliable respite caregiver from Seniors Prefer Homecare can step in and continue the compassionate care that your loved one deserves. Our highly trained and carefully screened aides understand the unique care needs of seniors with dementia, and how important it is to keep their families updated on their progress.
While helping your loved one manage their dementia in the comfort of their own home, our aides can also perform duties like light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meal preparation, medication reminders, transportation, and companionship; all delivered in a flexible package to put your mind at-ease. For additional information about dementia, or to learn why families in the Birmingham, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, AL, area are choosing Seniors Prefer Homecare as their go-to senior in-home caregiving source, visit: www.seniorspreferhomecare.com now.