Caring for a family member with dementia has a world of rewards – the feeling of peace of mind and fulfillment in knowing you are helping make the older adult’s life as secure and comfortable as possible, the pleasure of seeing the individual’s happiness in an enjoyable activity, the warmth of reminiscing with him or her. However, it’s also one of the most challenging responsibilities any of us can perform.
The Kansas City senior home care team at Hearts at Home works with families in supplying education and hands-on, specialized help and support with dementia care, and recommends the following strategies to handle some of the more challenging facets of caring for a senior with dementia:
Wandering can take place for a wide range of reasons: feelings of boredom, agitation, pain, depression, confusion, the need to use the bathroom, and others. Attempting to detect the root cause for your senior loved one’s wandering is the key. For instance, a bored senior with dementia could possibly be redirected to a favorite activity or reminiscing over photos. If pain is suspected, be sure to contact the senior’s doctor for advice. Make sure doors are locked to ensure the older adult does not wander away from home, and always be sure he or she is wearing some means of identification at all times just in case a wandering occurrence should arise.
Sleep pattern changes and disruptions are prevalent in dementia, and can contribute to exhaustion for family caregivers. It’s a good idea to try to minimize daytime sleeping and create a soothing, sleep-inducing setting during the evening hours: keep lights low, play comforting music, and avoid serving the senior any caffeinated or alcoholic drinks. If, in spite of these efforts, the senior continues to stay awake and distressed throughout the night, enlisting the services of a professional caregiver, such as those provided by Hearts at Home, can ensure the person remains safe overnight and an opportunity for family members to get much-needed rest.
Stress can swiftly intensify to agitation and even aggression for seniors with dementia. Seniors may also be aware of your own stress, which can cause further distress for them. It’s important to remain calm, even in the face of agitation, and to recognize which activities are most calming for your loved one and have them at the ready to diffuse difficult circumstances. This could be a tactical activity, the person’s favorite music, a walk in the yard, listening to a story read out loud – it may take some trial and error to find out what works best.
Hearts at Home’s Kansas City senior home care specialists are skilled and experienced in Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and would love to partner with you in providing the highest possible quality of care for your senior loved one. Call us at 913-440-4209 to schedule a free in-home consultation or to get answers to any of your dementia care questions.