Few things are more difficult than coping with someone you love being diagnosed with dementia. A diagnosis of dementia can be scary for both you and your loved one. As their dementia gradually worsens and becomes more severe, you may feel like you're losing the person you used to know and love. Luckily, there are things you can do to make this difficult time easier to manage for both you and your loved one. Here are four ways to cope with a loved one's dementia:
Look Into Memory Care
As your loved one's dementia progresses, there will likely come a time when you are no longer equipped to provide care for them in their own home. Being a caretaker for someone with dementia can be incredibly draining and stressful, as well as less than optimal for your loved one since you probably can't provide them with the same degree of care that professional caretakers can. Memory care facilities are assisted living facilities specifically designed for the care of those suffering from Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.
Instead of feeling guilty about looking for a memory care facility for them, remind yourself that you are doing the best thing for both you and them. In a memory care facility, your family member will get the medical and psychological support they need, in a safe, comforting environment. You will be able to remain an important part of their life, but without the risk of extreme burnout that comes with being their primary caregiver.
Keep Communication with Your Loved One Positive
Communicating with someone suffering from dementia can be highly frustrating and even heartbreaking. Luckily, there are things you can do to help make the best of your interactions. Making an effort to keep conversations light and upbeat can help your loved one to feel more relaxed and less anxious.
Try to avoid taking lapses in memory personally, as they cannot help it. It can also be helpful to limit distractions as much as possible, for example by turning off a television that's blaring in the background. If your loved one appears confused or disoriented be sure to speak to them in simple, easy-to-understand sentences.
Attend to Your Own Emotional Needs
While it's great to focus your time and attention on your loved one, don't do so to such an extent that you neglect your own emotional needs. If you are stressed, depressed, or otherwise overwhelmed, you will have a much more difficult time coping with your family member's dementia, and other aspects of your life will begin to suffer as well.
If you're not sure if your stress has become unmanageable, use this guide to stress symptoms to perform a self-check for yourself. If you determine that your stress and emotions have become more than you can easily manage, you may want to make an appointment with a counselor or at least your general practitioner. Another good option is to join a support group for family members of dementia patients. This support group directory should prove helpful.
Learning how to cope with and care for a loved one with dementia takes time, information, and a willingness to learn new caregiving and coping skills. Be sure to provide yourself with a solid foundation in dementia care by seeking out books and other media geared toward teaching family members how best to take care of their loved ones with dementia. This list of resources for people in your position is a great place to start.
By following these four tips, you will hopefully be able to cope with your family member's dementia in the most healthy way possible. Click here for info on coping with the responsibility and stress related to your loved one's dementia.