Caring for a loved one who has dementia is an incredibly demanding task that requires a vast amount of patience. Carers frequently suffer from stress and exhaustion due to the drain on their physical and emotional energy.
As a carer your goal is to maintain the wellbeing of the person you are looking after, but it is also crucial to look after your own health and wellbeing so that you have the energy required to look after you both. With that in mind, we have put together a list of very simple ideas and tips that can help to make a real difference when caring for a dementia sufferer.
Avoid Asking Direct Questions
This sounds simple enough but in reality, it is so much harder than it sounds, as it is so natural to ask direct questions when communicating. The trouble is that a person with dementia will more often than not have difficulty answering even the most basic of questions like “how are you”, or “would you like to go for a walk?” and as a result, your innocent questions are likely to make them feel intimidated and frustrated.
It takes time to adjust to, but learning to take a different approach makes a huge difference. Switching your questions to “you look lovely today” or “it would be lovely to pop outside for a nice walk in the fresh air, wouldn’t it?” will make life a lot easier for both of you and helps to keep everything more upbeat and positive.
Improve Concentration By Removing The Clutter
People with dementia frequently find it challenging to focus and concentrate, so make life a little easier for them by removing the ‘clutter’ from your environment and conversation. Minimising external distractions from the environment by turning off the television and radio, or moving away from others who are talking in the same room helps, as will keeping your sentences concise and to the point.
This gives your loved one more chance to focus on you and what you are saying and can help to significantly improve the quality of your communications.
The Power Of Non Verbal Communication
Take great care to make eye contact when communicating with your loved one and keep in mind that even when conversations are too much of a struggle, a kind expression in your eyes and a loving smile will enable you to connect, making both of you feel happier and more positive.
When you look into the eyes of your loved one you will be able to read how they are feeling, as the eyes tend to convey the full range of emotions including pleasure, sadness and anxiety.
Your expression is every bit as important when you are talking too, because even if your loved one is having difficulty focussing on the thread of the conversation, the warmth and kindness in your face will help them to feel relaxed and safe. Think of it like a mirror. When you appear open and relaxed, your loved one is likely to reflect the same positive emotions back at you.
Boosting Self Esteem
Dementia is a cruel condition that strips individuals of self-esteem as their ability to carry out simple everyday tasks and remember things, gradually becomes increasingly difficult. Boost your loved ones self-esteem by offering words of praise and encouragement and you will help them to shine from the inside out.