Coping With a Loved One’s Dementia: What You Can Do About It
Dementia is a debilitating and challenging condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Coping with dementia can be hard for both the person experiencing it and their loved ones. It is important for caregivers to be patient with those experiencing dementia and to recognize that the person is not intentionally trying to make you frustrated, those feelings can come from the challenges of communicating effectively with someone who may think differently. In this blog post, we will explore some effective ways to cope with feelings of frustration when dealing with dementia, and explore more resources for you if you need support.
Build a Support Network
Coping with dementia can be difficult, and having a strong support network can make a significant difference. This network can include family members, friends, and healthcare professionals. It is essential to talk openly with your loved ones and healthcare team about your needs, concerns, and goals. They can provide practical and emotional support, offer advice and guidance, and help you make decisions about your care. Next time you get the chance, try talking to someone about how you feel and talk about shared experiences dealing with dementia. Do not take out your frustrations on the person dealing with dementia, this could only make the problem worse.
Focus on Communication
Communication is critical when coping with dementia. It is important to be patient and understanding when communicating with someone with dementia, as they may struggle to express themselves clearly. It is also essential to listen actively and respond in a way that shows you understand. Try to encourage someone with dementia to communicate by speaking slowly, using short, concise, sentences that are easy to understand. Their ability to process information gets progressively weaker and their responses can become delayed, so it is important to not get lost yourself when communicating. Body language and tone can help get your message across better, so be mindful of what you are saying both advertently and inadvertently. As well as communicating directly to them, encourage them to speak with not only yourself but to others in their circle as well.
Simplify the Environment
Dementia can cause confusion, so it’s essential to keep the environment as simple and clutter-free as possible. Reducing visual and auditory distractions can help improve concentration and minimize the risk of falls or accidents. Labeling drawers, cupboards, and other items can help the person with dementia navigate their surroundings independently. This will also make your life easier being organised and know where things are when you need them.
Engage in Meaningful Activities
Engaging in meaningful activities can help maintain a sense of purpose and improve quality of life when coping with dementia. Activities can include hobbies, interests, and social activities that the person with dementia enjoys. It is important to adapt these activities to suit the individual’s abilities and needs and to encourage participation rather than forcing it.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential for both physical and mental health when coping with dementia. Eating a balanced diet, staying physically active, and getting enough sleep can help improve mood, reduce stress, and enhance cognitive function. It is also essential to manage any existing health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Take a moment to check in on your own mental and physical health, as you need to be at your strongest in order to care for someone else.
Find extra support in your community
To support yourself even further, you can join a local caregiver support group or a specialist dementia organisation in your community. Here are a few local Waterloo-region resources for you to explore if you are looking for more help.
- Ontario Caregiver Organization – Helpline 1-833-416-2273
- Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington 519-650-1628
- Community Support Connections – Caregiver support 519-772-8787
- Hospice of Waterloo Region – Caregiver support 519-743-4114
- Tamcare Home Health 226-998-8760 (For assistance in-home)
Coping with dementia can be challenging, but it is possible to manage the symptoms and maintain a good quality of life with the right strategies and support. Building a strong support network, focusing on communication, creating a safe and comfortable environment, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, engaging in meaningful activities, and considering medication can all help when coping with dementia. Remember, it is important to seek help and support when needed, and to take care of yourself and your loved ones.