for caring for someone, either family or friend, who is living with Dementia.
- Maintain your sense of humour. Use humour whenever possible, though not at the person’s expense. People with dementia tend to retain their social skills and are usually delighted to laugh along with you.
- Communication is key. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart.
- When the going gets tough, distract and redirect. Eg You might say, “I see you’re feeling sad – I’m sorry you’re upset. Let’s go get something to eat.”
- Respond with affection and reassurance.
- Ask simple, answerable questions. Ask one question at a time; those with yes or no answers work best. Refrain from asking open-ended questions or giving too many choices.
- Avoid asking questions that rely on short-term memory, such as asking the person what they had for lunch. Instead, try asking general questions about the person’s distant past – this information is more likely to be retained.
- Break down activities into a series of steps. This makes many tasks much more manageable. You can encourage your loved one to do what they can, gently remind them of steps they tend to forget, and assist with steps they’re no longer able to accomplish on their own.
- Caring for yourself is one of the most important – and one of the most often forgotten – things you can do as a caregiver. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. When your needs are taken care of, the person you care for will benefit too. Take time out for yourself. This includes getting enough rest and sleep, good nutrition and regular exercise.
- When offers of help are made – accept these offers of help from friends and family. Having a break for an hour or two each week could be enough to assist you to maintain your caring role for that much longer.
- Gather as much information from health professionals about dementia and the diagnosis of the person you are caring for. Each person’s dementia diagnosis and symptoms are very specific and as unique as that person is.
Jubilee Community Care can assist you to register yourself and the older person you are caring for with My Aged Care so that you can access government subsidised care. This will assist you to arrange for more formal supports for both you and your loved one such as In Home Respite Care for a few hours per week or you may prefer for your family member to attend a Dementia specific Day Respite Centre and Activities program.
Nicky Panagopoulos is a Registered Nurse and Jubilee Community Care’s Client Support Manager. Call 07 3871 3220 to speak to Nicky.