Caregivers are often challenged to do all they need to do to help a loved one stay independent and healthy, and when a senior has dementia, the role can be even more taxing. Dementia can bring about changes in a senior’s personality and ability to understand and cope with everyday life, but there are ways caregivers can meet these challenges and make life easier for themselves and a beloved senior, simply by following a few expert tips for caregivers.
Tip #1 – One of the most important tips for caregivers is that of establishing and adhering to a daily routine. Dementia and associated memory loss can make life confusing and stressful so staying on a schedule helps to eliminate surprises and form a comfortable and predictable routine. According to the alzheimersproject.org article, “The Importance of Routine and Familiarity to Persons with Dementia,” a daily schedule should include everything from dressing, personal hygiene tasks, meals, chores, and activities like listening to music, watching television, and working on hobbies. Whatever a loved one needs to do or loves to do should be on the schedule so they can transfer the routine into their long-term memory.
Tip #2 – Another of the tips for caregivers is to take advantage of assistive technologies, many of which are designed specifically for seniors with dementia. Assistive technologies offer not only a level of safety for seniors but also peace of mind when caregivers cannot be present. Today’s technology ranges from the practical like elevated toilet seats and eating aids to talking photo albums to appliance and home monitors and location trackers. Of course, there are also smartphone apps that are not only helpful with tasks like reminders for medications and appointments but entertaining as well. For an in-depth look at what assistive devices are available checkout the dementiacarecentral.com article, “Guide to Assistive Technology, Aids & Apps for Persons with Dementia & Caregivers.”
Tip #3 – One of the most frustrating tasks for seniors with dementia is dressing. What was once accomplished with ease can become difficult and confusing when buttoning, tying laces, and getting in and out of clothes becomes a challenge. The solution is one of the easiest tips for caregivers as there are now a variety of adaptive clothing choices available.
For example, slip-on shoes with Velcro straps instead of laces, shirts with magnetic buttons, and clothes that open in the back (for those who take off their clothes when they shouldn’t) can go a long way toward making dressing and staying dressed easier. According to the grayingwithgrace.com article, “All About Adaptive Clothing For Dementia Patients” one study showed that being well dressed can also help a senior feel good about themselves and encourage socialization, which is essential to good health.
Tip #4 – Keeping communication open and frequent is one more of the tips for caregivers. As dementia progresses, it can become harder and harder for a loved one to find the right words, remember who you are and communicate how they feel or what they need. This is where patience can really pay off. Carrying on conversations and engaging one-on-one with a senior with dementia can help them focus and better express themselves. When trying to communicate it’s best to be calm, keep sentences short and allow the senior time to speak, even if it takes them longer. Among the other communication tips for caregivers is to limit distractions like TVs or radios that can make hearing difficult, make eye contact when speaking, and even hold hands to help make the connection. Most of all, show respect by speaking normally, not as if speaking to a baby, and avoid speaking of a loved one as if they are not there. Learn more in the alzsd.org article, “Do’s and Don’ts of communication and dementia.”
Tip #5 – Perhaps the most often forgotten of the tips for caregivers is that help is available. Caregiving in the best-case scenario can be overwhelming, so when dementia is added, it is important for caregivers to understand that resources are available. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of other family members or friends, or checkout the options in the alzheimers.gov article, “Resources for Caregivers of People With Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias.”
When dementia progresses beyond the capabilities of in-home caregivers, consider the safety and security of a memory care community like Thrive Senior Living. Seniors in memory care receive excellent care day and night, as well as wonderful nutritious meals, therapies and activities to help them remain independent as long as possible, and the company of friends to share each day with. Get the facts in our blog, “What Does ‘Memory Care” Really Mean?’”
No matter what caregiving path you take, our “Family Decision Toolkit” can help ease the way. Contact us today for more about all that Thrive Senior Living has to offer in housing, services and amenities.