Helping families cope; a guide for those caring for a loved one with dementia.
Dementia is a widely known progressive disease that affects your memory, thinking and behaviour, currently affecting over 55 million people worldwide, with research showing that more than 850,000 people in the UK live with it.
Despite this, there is still a lot unknown about dementia, leaving many families and loved ones of those living with it to be confused and lost as to how they can help.
1. Be patient
See the human behind the dementia. Witnessing someone’s dementia progress can be upsetting and at times frustrating to see, leading you to become sharper or perhaps condescending to the person experiencing dementia. However, it is important that you avoid doing this and remember that they are still a person and may well be even more confused and lost than you. Patience when it comes to dementia enables you to support the person and reduce the anxieties they may be feeling.
Try to learn more and understand the disease. Whilst this can seem overwhelming, organisations such as Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK have some great tools to help signpost people to the right information, as well as offering support. For example, Age UK Sheffield work in partnership with the fantastic Dementia Action Alliance group to establish Sheffield as a ‘dementia-friendly’ city.
By understanding the disease more, you can begin to understand the person and the signs of dementia. It is also important to recognise that everyone is unique and will experience dementia in their own way, so taking the time to understand the individual’s experience will really help.
3. Follow their lead
Many people will often say that keeping a routine for people with dementia is essential. However, although this can be useful for some, it doesn’t apply for all those living with the disease. Following their lead and enabling them to do the things they wish to do on that day, even if it is ‘out of their norm’, ensures that they continue to enjoy their hobbies and interests as much as possible.
Remember, although you know they have dementia, they may not recognise that they do so if you restrict them, they may find it quite upsetting.
Good communication can help support someone living with dementia immensely. When you communicate well with them, you can improve their understanding and wellbeing, making them feel at ease. This also links into your understanding of them, as many people with dementia may communicate in different ways. For example, some may communicate best by looking at photographs together and starting the conversation that way, rather than just talking straight at them.
5. Be part of our team
Start caring for someone living with dementia. This could be by taking them to an important appointment, helping them with housework, cooking or just providing some essential companionship and offering a hand to hold. Home Instead offer award-winning dementia training to all Care Professionals, ensuring that they provide the best quality care to their clients.