Watching a loved one battle dementia is often an emotionally jarring experience. As a result of your close relationship with and immense dedication to this person, you may choose to take on the role of caregiver to them.
Speak to the Person’s Doctor
Before acting as a caregiver, you need to better understand the person’s specific situation to avoid aggravating the condition. Tell the doctor that you are going to act as the primary caretaker and ask for any advice. The doctor can provide you with tips, but also with resources to help you take on this role.
Provide Relief to Yourself
Acting as a caregiver 24 hours a day and seven days a week is not the best for you or your loved one. That much exhaustion takes a physical toll on the body, and you may also struggle to focus on the person’s needs. You may decide to split the responsibilities with other family members, or you can opt to have an aide or nurse come in a few times per week.
Consider Living Together
Living with the person makes your caregiver role easier. You cannot always be there to provide for the individual, and leaving the person alone could prove tremendously dangerous. Think about the longevity of the situation. If you are going to act as the caregiver for the long-term, moving in together may be the best idea. If the arrangement is a short-term one, then you may wish to move into the guest room in your loved one’s house for the time-being.
Remember the Value of Patience
People suffering from dementia often do not know where they are or who they are. They may also grow physically unable to care for themselves. Acting as the caregiver in such a situation is going to require patience beyond what you have ever experienced before. Taking some time to meditate or walk outdoors can help you to restore patience on particularly difficult days.
Work to Incorporate Activities
Incorporate activities into the daily routine to stimulate your loved one’s mind as much as possible. If it’s safe to do so, go for walks and reveal in nature. If the person loves crossword puzzles, purchase books. Watch movies together. Sing tunes as a duo. Remember that you are there to help make the person happy and to keep them healthy for as long as possible.
Keep in mind that a time may come when you are physically unable to act as a caregiver, and conducting some research now on hospice and end of life care services can help you prepare for that time.
Informational Credit to Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care