Caring for a loved one with dementia can be challenging, yet so rewarding.
They may become irritable, frustrated, and sometimes angry without provocation. Even though it is not intentional, their families can still be wracked with feelings of emotional and mental drain or guilt. Some common thoughts in caregivers are Am I helping enough? or Am I being patient enough?
If you’re in such a situation, you may be feeling anxious and worried, wondering what you can do to help.
Regardless of your specific circumstance, caring for your loved one can be an unexpected or challenging role and most likely one that you haven’t been trained specifically to do. But you do not need to be an expert. You don’t even have to be a superhero, even though in their eyes you most definitely are.
With the right help, support and resources, you can be an effective part of their support system, which can feel rewarding to both yourself and your loved one.
So, what can you do right now?
Learn as much as you can. What are some quirks about your family member? What medication are they currently on? Are you in close contact with their doctor? Do they have a doctor? The more you know, the less worry there will be about “what is happening.”
Listening is a huge part of caring for a loved one with dementia. When we listen with our heart, we are able to hear what they are trying to say on a deeper level. It can be difficult at times, but when you come from a place of love and understanding you will be able to clearly interpret their needs.
If they are acting out, try to identify the cause. Sometimes it is out of fear or pure confusion. When we learn to listen with our heart, we can see more clearly what makes them react to certain things and how we can avoid them.
Simple communication with daily tasks helps them know what is coming next without any surprises. Remain calm and supportive, and try not to take their confusion personally.
Engaging with different activities can be a great mood booster—not just for your loved one, but for yourself as their caregiver. Such activities could include painting, colouring, going for a car ride, a walk, listening to music, planting a garden, or whatever else that makes them happy. Finding those moments of happiness helps make the more difficult moments seem few and far between.
Remember: you are never alone.
It's comforting to give and receive support wherever you can. Remember to take care of yourself and ask for help when you need it.
If you have any more questions on what you can do, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of our community managers who are trained and equipped to provide resources, tools, and help.