5 Essential Strategies for Dementia Caregivers
Providing memory care for a loved one with dementia is not easy or straightforward. There is no instruction manual that is one-size-fits-all.
When it comes to your role as a caregiver, intuition is often more important than logic. Even though there is no official instruction manual, there are strategies you can build a foundation with and then modify as you go along.
With that said, here are five important memory care strategies provided by our memory care team in Ocean City, NJ.
#1 – Be flexible
Normally, our relationships are based on logic, when something we do or say prompts the other person into an appropriate reaction. However, when it comes to dementia, logic and reasoning flies out the window. Even if you agreed on something just minutes ago, they may not remember it or be in the same frame of mind to agree to it now.
This can be exceptionally frustrating and difficult for both caregivers and loved ones, so it’s important not to rely on logic and reasoning. Instead, always be flexible and ready to respond to what your loved one needs in that particular moment. If they get upset, try to redirect their attention rather than remind them of something they likely don’t remember.
#2 – Take it easy
Sure, a routine is a fantastic thing. It works well with children and adults, bringing a sense of structure and peace of mind into your life. So it’s only natural to think that a routine would apply to someone with dementia too. It’s a bit more complex than that, however. When a routine works, it works really well — but caregivers need to be able to throw that routine out the window as needed. This means taking a flexible approach like we mentioned above, and it also means taking the path of least resistance.
For example, if something upsets your loved one and throws them off their routine, don’t try to get them back on track. Instead, go with the flow. If you only managed to get your loved one to eat a small portion of breakfast, don’t force it — instead, let it go. This will help relieve your own frustration and theirs at the same time, and actually can make it easier to get back into something of a routine more quickly.
#3 – Involve your loved one
If there is an activity your loved one can do, even if they can’t do it perfectly or need a little assistance, let them do it. Many people with dementia still have great physical and mental capabilities, and encouraging them to engage in daily activities as far as their abilities allow will deliver that all-important stimulation that brains and bodies thrive on. Whether it’s folding laundry, planting flowers in the garden, assisting at dinner time or going for daily walks, these activities promote stress relief for you and your loved one, helping them to preserve independence and their health.
#4 – Plan for the future
While it’s important to be flexible and go with the flow, it’s also important to plan for your loved one’s future. Take the time to speak to their doctor or specialist about how dementia progresses, the types of issues to watch out for, and research how you can best help them at each stage of the condition. Knowing the road ahead will help you prepare on many fronts. Some examples are making sure that their legal papers are in order, establishing financing for future care needs and other bills, and deciding on potential caregiving services down the road.
Caring for a loved one with dementia is an emotional journey, so it’s easy to put aside financial, healthcare and legal issues that seem cold and impersonal. Handling these issues ahead of time, however, will help take strain off you as a caregiver. It will also give you a clear idea of the different ways you can support your loved one and smooth the road ahead.
#5 – Care for yourself
Caring for a loved one with dementia is one of the most emotionally difficult tasks anyone can take on. When their care needs change and escalate, caregivers often pay the price. Caregiver burnout is very real, and it’s important to take steps to make sure your mental and physical health is supported. It’s not selfish — your personal needs are just as important as those of your loved one. The better you look after yourself, the better you will be able to care for them.
Look for local support groups in your area, as they’re a great source of comfort and advice. Get family members and loved ones to help you out, even if it’s just for the occasional break here and there. Investigate respite care services which offer professional caregivers to assist your loved one while you take some much-deserved time off. Most importantly, always try to eat healthily, get enough rest, and exercise. Taking care of a loved one with dementia isn’t something anyone should have to do alone and without proper self-care.
Tapestries® memory care in South Jersey
If you are looking for professionals to help you care for your loved one, either on a temporary or permanent basis, our Tapestries® memory care team is here to help. Visit our website, call our memory care advisors and have an in-depth consultation. It’s no obligation, of course, and you’ll quickly see how we can fit into your loved one’s schedule to provide the support, care and fulfilling life they deserve. For more information on our Tapestries memory care services in New Jersey, visit us online at https://umcommunities.org/theshores/