Tips on caring for a loved one with dementia

According to Alzheimer’s Australia almost 280,000 Australians are currently living with dementia. Many of whom will have a family member as their carer.

Caring for someone with dementia comes with unique challenges and rewards. Feros Care’s Lifestyle Partnerships Manager, Jo Cooke, has not only worked in dementia specific care, she is also the primary support person for her mum who is living with dementia. She shares some professional and personal tips that get her through the days.

  • Find out as much as you can about dementia to help you understand the condition and progression. Dementia affects people of all backgrounds, but each person will have a different experience.

  • Don’t hold back in asking questions, requesting information, or fighting for your loved one’s dignity and independence regardless of who you are dealing with e.g. medicos, psychologists, social workers, hospital staff etc.

  • Don’t leave it too long to arrange legal affairs including Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship. You will become the advocate.

  • During the early stages, speak to your loved one about their daily living preferences e.g. their bathing routine, meal times etc. This will be invaluable if they need assistance later on.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for support or to take a break. Ask yourself, if you get sick or injured who will care for your loved one?

  • Share information with your family or close friends. They might not be able to help, but emotional support is invaluable for your wellbeing.

  • Don’t get offended if your loved one becomes angry with you  – this usually comes from their frustration and fear. It will pass.

  • Show respect. On difficult days leave the room, take five breaths and then return. The change in attitude may surprise you.

  • If they can, encourage and engage your loved one in day-to-day activities to keep them stimulated. The need to be useful never disappears and it’s an important part of who they are.  Likewise, silent companionship is also wonderful.

  • Cry when you need to, find a safe place and vent your emotions. The shower, the backyard or a friend’s house can all be a safe haven for this.

  • Humour can be a release for both of you. My mother used to lament that she could not read books anymore because she kept forgetting the storyline. We looked at the funny side of this by thinking she would save lots of money because her favourite book would always be the best book she had ever read.  

  • Only make promises you can keep and assure them you will do your best. This will also alleviate your guilt.

  • Most importantly, your loved one may not know or recognise you in the later stages of dementia. Just remember the love is always there  – it’s just taking a detour inside.



Contact

Feros Care has an experienced Aged Care Advisory Team which will provide free and friendly assistance to seniors and carers. Call 1300 763 583 regarding your aged and community care questions.
For more information visit Feros Care.


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