How to Look After a Loved One with Dementia

Housing and care for older people

Help family member with dementia careDementia is a serious condition that affects the way a person remembers events and people and how he or she sees the outside world. It is generally a degenerative disease, and the condition tends to become worse.

If you are responsible for helping family member with dementia what do you need to know?

Creating a Safe Environment

Since the person is suffering from memory problems, previously safe situations could turn dangerous. Be sure that stairwells do not pose dangerous drops and that smoke alarms are properly working. You should put any sharp objects away or simply keep them in storage until you come over. It’s difficult to care for a person with dementia from away. You cannot remove everything from the environment, but so many different elements can be hazardous.

Live-In Care

Generally, when a person has dementia, live-in care is going to be necessary. For example, if he or she accidentally turns or leaves the stove on, a fire alarm could not be enough to protect the person. You might wind up having this loved one come to live in your house, or you could hire professional care. Whatever the case may be, it’s likely that you will need 24/7 supervision.

Addressing Physical Needs

At some point, the person may not be able to physically take care of him or herself anymore. Depending on your own physical strength, you might be able to tend to bathing and other personal hygiene needs, or a professional might have to be called to handle these issues. You also want to be sensitive and compassionate when dealing with personal hygiene as you do not want to embarrass the person.

Keeping Track of Appointments

Since your loved one is dealing with dementia, he or she will likely need to see a doctor on a fairly regular basis. Perhaps this person is still able to talk on the phone, but you do not want the appointment to be forgotten. Make the appointments for him or her, or ask your loved one to have the doctor on speaker phone. It’s necessary to ensure that all of the correct days and times are conveyed.

Developing a Sense of Worth

Not all cases of dementia are the same, and your loved one might have some moments where he or she is able to function as in the past. Do not just give up and assume that this person is incapable of performing any activities or engaging in any hobbies. In fact, these activities can be quite helpful for your family member or friend. Remember, he or she is still a person who has human needs.

As a Carer You Need to know What You Can Handle

If you are unable to properly look after your loved one, you need to seek out another form of help. For example, your sibling might be able to take care of your loved one on certain days, and you could do it on others. At some point, you may have to consider a nursing home for your loved one.

Helping a family member with dementia can certainly be a challenge, but you do not have to face it alone. Look at the array of resources that are available to you and make a plan for how you will help.

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Nisha represents a site called MHA.org.uk.

 

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March 3, 2013

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