Are you wondering how to care for someone with dementia? My name is Heather Schanou, and I am the Sales & Marketing Director at AdvanceCare Health Services. This is article #2 of a 3-part series about dementia. Last week, I wrote about the stages of dementia and how to know when to seek assistance. This article will encompass how to care for someone with dementia, beginning with a personal perspective that references my grandmother and her struggles.
My grandparents, known for their resilience and grit, faced health challenges as they grew older. While my grandfather’s issues were primarily physical, my grandmother’s centered around cognitive decline associated with dementia. Remarkably, they continued to live together independently well into their late 80s. However, as time went on, my grandfather realized that my grandmother’s dementia had progressed to a severe decline, and he was unable to care for her.
With a heavy heart, he placed her in a nursing home but remained unwavering in his devotion to her. Every day, without exception, he visited her. After all, when you’ve been married to someone for 75 years, it’s a love that survives all things. I remember him lovingly talking about how he met her and married her when they were teenagers. With a twinkle in his eye, he proudly said, “And I still got her!”
Dementia is a complex and demanding condition that impacts millions of individuals globally. Its symptoms involve cognitive decline, which affects memory, thinking, reasoning, and daily life. So, what are the best approaches to providing care for someone with dementia?
Safety first! Search for potential dangers within the home of the individual struggling with dementia. Ensure that there are grab bars where needed and secure doors and windows. Having adequate lighting and recognizing that contrasting colors improve visibility is crucial.
Create a familiar and calm environment. Reduce clutter in the home and designate quiet areas where the individual can retreat when they need a moment of calm. Install nightlights to prevent disorientation at night. When decorating, use familiar objects and photographs that hold sentimental value to reduce agitation.
Establish routines and structured activities. Create daily schedules and engaging activities that promote mental and emotional well-being, such as arts and crafts projects, puzzles, gardening, yoga, playing cards, reading, and pet therapy.
Utilize effective communication strategies. Use simple language, maintain eye contact, and practice active listening. It is essential to be patient when someone has difficulty finding words and cannot process information.
I distinctly remember my grandmother’s confusion during those early days in the nursing home. She often told us that her stay was temporary and that she would soon return home. Regrettably, that day never arrived. Fortunately, the caregivers at the nursing home were exceptional. They created a calm and structured environment for her, providing comfort and distractions when she became confused. Despite her frequent forgetfulness and disorientation, the staff ensured her well-being, and she always had a smile for everyone.
When planning to support your loved one through their journey, call AdvanceCare to see how we can help! We provide in-home care so people don’t have to leave their homes, lessening the stress of relocating to a new environment. Our trained caregivers’ guidance can help you utilize the best communication strategies, establish routines, and create a calm and safe environment. Visit www.tnadvancecare.com to find out more, or call us at 629-800-9614. We touch lives!