Updated: Sep 10, 2019
Having someone close to you diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia is an upsetting and challenging time, your world can be turned upside down in a matter of months, and you may struggle to deal with it. This is all entirely natural. Our guide aims to help you understand how you can make slight changes to yours and your loved one's lives to ensure that you are giving the necessary support to your loved one, in a way that doesn’t burn you out. After all, as a care-giver, it is important that you are able to remain consistent and well-rested in order to care in the best way possible.
Of course, there may be circumstances in which you can’t care for your loved one, or because you simply need a break (especially, as caring for somebody with dementia or long-term illness can be extremely exhausting and all-consuming) which is where our supported living services can help. At JRH, we provide supported living services which can aid you and your family, from providing home care such as housework, shopping, preparing meals, personal care, laundry, attending appointments, sitting service, and full dementia care.
Our outreach service has small teams within it that work in specific geographical locations to provide consistency within their care. This is so that we are able to maintain the personalisation and relationships previously built up with our support workers and service users.
Set the scene with familiar items such as dressing your loved one in their own recognisable clothing, spraying their favourite scent or perfume, displaying photos of loved ones throughout the home, maintaining the same routine as they’ve always had, taking them (as far as is possible) to the places that they have always gone to. This will give them a sense of belonging, reminding them of themselves, or of a former self that they identify with. This is especially important if they’re living in a previous chapter of their life.
This can be extremely difficult, but try not to argue or question what they are saying even if what they are saying is incorrect or frustrating to you. To a person with dementia, the world is incredibly confusing, and being questioned can strike almost an instant change in their mood and behaviour. They may feel threatened because what they are saying isn’t being believed by someone they love.
Showing compassion by listening with your heart can really help a person with dementia to feel comfortable and at ease. Avoid trying to interrupt them whilst they are recalling something or explaining a story to you. It is important to them that you listen, but also helps their brain activity when recalling something.
Set the mood
Dealing with hostile and troubling situations is extremely difficult for family members as it can be upsetting to see your family member in such a state. When entering the room for the first time that day, or even for the 20th time, try to remain upbeat and have a positive attitude towards your loved one. This will make them feel at ease, remain comfortable, and ultimately present in a much happier mood. This is not only good for the person with dementia but also for your own mental health too. It’s very distressing for all parties involved in the situation.
State your message
Be clear in what you’re trying to say, don’t use new or complicated vocabulary to converse with your loved one. As with familiarity, make sure that your voice has a calm tone to it so as not to raise any concern or unintentionally create a hostile environment.
Numerous people with dementia struggle with short term memory regularly. A good way to get them engaged and potentially in a happier mood is by helping them to recall long-term past events. Ask questions about their childhood, their early days when they met their significant other, their job, their family, their hobbies, happy holidays, sit back and let them recall everything that is important to them. It doesn’t matter how long ago the event may have taken place. It will help them to think and positively distract them from everything else that is going on.
Using humour (not at the expense of the person who has dementia) is a great way to get through the obstacles that are often faced by dementia patients and their families. Dementia patients still want (and need) to be involved with social activities.
Don’t have any expectations
It’s incredibly difficult to watch our loved one in a confused state. There may be times where you are recognisable to them where they are in a kind and compassionate mood, and there may be times where you aren’t. Amongst all this it’s always best to remember that no two hours (let alone days) are necessarily the same, and so expecting that their behaviour will be as you expect it to be can lead to huge frustration and disappointment.
We understand just how difficult it can be, we really do, that’s why we’re here to offer you the support that you and your loved one deserve.