5 Recommendations for Caregivers of a Dementia Patient

December 9, 2013

Ryan Hughes is a freelance writer and health enthusiast. He is in his final year of nursing at the University of Derby Nursing and Health School and is passionate about helping others and sharing his thoughts via the online world.
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There are many different brain diseases that can eventually lead to dementia, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The Institute for Dementia Research & Prevention states that there are at least one out of every six women and one out of every ten men that will develop a form of dementia in their life. Even though there are a large amount of cases of dementia, there are not a whole lot of people who understand much about the condition or how to deal with patients who have dementia. If someone close to you has dementia, and you will not be placing them into a care home, it is important to consider the following recommendations while you interact or provide care for the patient.

Consider the Level of Dementia

There are three stages of dementia. Mild dementia, often leading to diagnosis, causes a problem with some parts of memory, such as remembering names, retaining new memories, and carrying out difficult activities. Moderate dementia affects the patient’s ability to function on a physical level, make proper judgment calls, and process sensory information. Severe dementia causes high amounts of memory loss, problems with mobility, and loss of bladder or bowel control. Each degree of dementia affects how people are able to interact with the patient and handle the patient’s behaviours.

Make Plans After Diagnosis

Once a patient has been diagnosed with mild dementia or early onset dementia, planning for home adjustments and care should begin. Take the opportunity to discuss the patient’s wishes while he or she still has the ability, even if everyone is aware that he or she may not remember any of it down the road. Changes to the patient’s home should include removing or securing area and throw rugs, installing safety locks and latches, and possibly renovating a bathroom. It may also be necessary to install a ramp to accommodate wheel chair access in and out of the home to prepare for loss of mobility.

Take a Break

Caregivers of loved ones with dementia often suffer from high levels of stress, anxiety, and grief as they deal with the daily issues that arise. As the condition worsens, patients tend to exhibit behaviours that can be difficult to manage let alone watch someone go through it. Around the clock care can be very exhausting for one person to handle. Eventually, you will need to take some time away to refresh yourself. Most insurance companies will provide patients with home services, such as a home nurse or someone to care for dementia patients for a limited amount of time during the day.

Keep Day and Night Clear

Dementia patients can easily lose track of day and night, which has a huge effect on their sleeping patterns. To combat this, help the patient clearly see the difference. Keep the home bright and cheerful during the day by opening curtains and blinds and turning on lights. At night, close everything and use dim lighting. Put digital clocks in every room, but make sure they are the kinds that differentiate between a.m. and p.m., and set alarms for important things such as meal times.

Remain Positive

In many cases, dementia patients suffer from severe depression or agitation. They can often become hostile and combatant, particularly when they are over-stimulated. Keeping a positive attitude helps. Your tone of voice and body language can help diffuse the situation. Be respectful and speak pleasantly as much as possible. Most importantly, remain calm.