Find a Routine that Works
Routines can help someone with dementia feel more grounded. They might not remember where they are or why you’re there caring for them but will remember a small detail like when lunch is served. Their routine can give them something to focus on instead of their confusion. Every day won’t be perfect but do your best to incorporate as much structure as possible around times like meals, getting ready in the morning and preparing for bed.
Do Activities They Enjoy
Adding some fun to your daily or weekly routines can help boost your mood and the mood of the person you’re caring for. You don’t have to plan out complicated trips that could become overwhelming. Instead, focus on simple joys. Their favorite movie, an art class, books or music can help relax them or even jog their memory. Keep a list of the things they enjoy so you’re never at a loss for ideas.
Eliminate as Much Stress as Possible
Stress is not good for anyone, but it’s especially not healthy for dementia patients. If the person you’re caring for is getting overwhelmed by a decision, try to reduce the number of choices they have. For example, give them two shirts to choose from instead of an entire closet. Distractions can also cause stress. Try to limit background noise like the TV when having conversations, as it can make it more difficult to focus. Lastly, naps can sometimes lead to confusion so try to limit them when possible.
Plan Ahead with Safeguards
You never want someone with dementia to end up in a dangerous situation because they’re confused. There are a few things you can do to help them avoid them. Add rails and seating to areas where falls are likely to happen (like the shower) and try to remove any throw rugs or other trip hazards. It’s also possible the person you’re caring for may forget they’ve already taken their medication for the day. Keep it locked away along with items like cleaning supplies that could be harmful to someone who is confused.
Be Patient and Listen
You may know that the person you’re caring for is forgetting things but cutting them off while they’re speaking and refusing to listen will only make everyone more stressed. It can be difficult to stay patient but do your best to listen to their concerns and assure them of your desire to help without becoming angry. It’s scary to forget things. And if words aren’t doing the trick, try showing them something familiar like family pictures to help them stay calm. Treat them with the compassion you would want for yourself and let them keep as much independence as possible.
Take Time to Recharge
Caring for someone with dementia can be a big commitment, so it’s important that you take time to care for yourself too. Lean on your support networks and try to make room in your schedule for the things you enjoy so you don’t burn out. And remember, no one is a perfect caregiver, and you will make mistakes. Learn from them and keep doing your best.