Caring for a Loved One With Dementia

1. Keep Your Speech Simple

Open-ended questions, such as “What do you want for lunch?” may seem easy to answer. However, these kinds of questions can easily overwhelm a person with dementia. When someone has dementia, they may no longer be able to make the kind of mental connections necessary to answer those types of questions. Stick to basic questions, yes or no questions that won’t cause stress. For example, you can ask the person you’re caring for if they’d like soup for lunch.

2. Stay Patient

Dementia can make it difficult to communicate with others and can cause issues with communication. This can be very frustrating. Your loved one is under a great deal of pressure, and your job as a caregiver should be to find ways to make things easier for them. You may feel overburdened at times, but losing patience with the person you’re caring for will make the situation worse, not better. Allow your loved one plenty of time to respond. Repeat yourself as much as you need to.

3. Strive to Create a Stimulating and Well-Balanced Environment

Lighting: Make sure your loved one is able to enjoy the sunshine during the day. During the evening hours, before it’s time for bed, use lamps with warm lighting. At night, keep things dark. A yellow nightlight can be used if you need extra lighting.

Colors: According to research, contrasting colors can help people with dementia to see things around them more clearly. That’s why you should use contrasting colors as much as possible. For example, your tablecloth and dishes should be different shades. Avoid busy patterns when possible. If there are patterns or dark lines on your flooring, you may want to use a simple rug. Find the right colors to use around your loved one. Create an environment that’s well suited to their needs. The Clarity Clinic can help to advise on how to create the ideal environment.

4. Laughter Is Still the Best Medicine

It feels good to laugh, and it can also be very therapeutic, particularly for those struggling with dementia. A report in Australia found that sharing jokes with a loved one can have similar effects to stress-relieving medication. Not only can laughter help those with dementia, but it can also help caregivers to relax. Seek out ways to connect with your loved one and bring laughter into their lives. Whether you share jokes, watch TV, or find other ways to make them smile, you should take advantage of the healing power of laughter.

5. Get Physical

Studies have consistently shown that leading a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of dementia. Research also shows that physical activity can keep the brain in good health, even as you age. When you exercise, it boosts the amount of blood circulating to the brain. Make sure that the person you’re caring for is getting a minimum of 20 minutes of cardio exercise each day. Not only can this improve clarity and concentration, but it can also slow deterioration. Of course, that doesn’t have to mean intense workouts. Simple tasks, like helping out with chores or going for a walk, can help your loved one get the exercise that they need.

Taking care of a loved one that has dementia can be difficult to manage. It’s a major responsibility that can cause a great deal of stress. If you’re able to find ways to improve your loved one’s quality of life, and if you’re able to keep them engaged, you’ll both have a better experience. Even though this isn’t easy, this can be a way for you to connect with your loved one and enjoy the time you have left with them.