17 February 2015
Caring For People With Dementia: What Help Do They Need?
What kind of care do people with dementia need? Dementia can cause a range of changes in mood, including frustration as abilities decline, confusion as memory deteriorates, and other knock-on effects as such as changes in diet and interests. Read on to discover some of the key things to take into account when caring for people with dementia.
Helping with Day to Day Tasks
When a person develops dementia, it can make a big change to how they go about their day to day tasks. They’re likely to notice they’re forgetting things, for example where the teacups or plates are kept in the kitchen, people’s names, or even where the bathroom is. Other effects include decreased coordination, which can make it much harder to perform daily tasks like preparing food, washing or getting ready for bed.
How Can You Help?
As people living with dementia see how their skills are deteriorating, are unable to express themselves or forgetting things they’re sure they used to know, they can become frustrated, helpless or less self-confident. It’s important that you help them tackle these feelings of a lack of self-worth by offering them support in a sensitive manner, without criticising their efforts. This helps your loved one feel that they’re still useful and can still do the things that used to come naturally to them.
You can also help them with their memory by putting memory aids around the house. This might include putting a picture on each kitchen cupboard door of what’s inside, or photos of what’s inside each room in the house, making it easier to find what they’re looking for.
Another way to keep them engaged is to let them take part in everyday tasks, which helps your loved one feel useful. This might include involving them in preparing meals, help with the shopping, hovering or laying the table.
Food and Nutrition
It’s important that your loved one continues to eat healthily, despite their illness. A good diet is essential to boost the immune system, especially for those with dementia, as illness can cause added confusion.
Mealtimes can become more difficult in a number of ways due to the effects of dementia. Commonly, people with dementia can forget what foods they like, refuse to eat, stop recognising familiar foods, or ask for unusual food combinations.
Not all this behaviour is down to confusion, though. Dental problems can cause irritation in the mouth, leading to your loved one resisting eating, so it’s a good idea to speak to your dentist or GP if you have concerns about their oral health.
How Can You Help?
When helping your loved one to eat, it’s important that they’re involved as much as possible. Let them help you prepare food, giving them some continuity with how they used to live their life. Let them choose what they want to eat based on sight, as this can add a visual prompt to remind them about their favourite foods.
Try to keep mealtimes as calm and stress-free as possible too. For example, your loved one’s eating habits may change over time, such as wanting to eat at different times of day. Try to accommodate this, ensuring you have plenty of time for meals allowing you to deal with any problems that may arise. Above all, remember to stay calm, as this can ensure your loved one doesn’t feel overly anxious.
Don’t Neglect Your Own Wellbeing
It’s only natural to put your loved one first, but it’s also important you also pay attention to your own wellbeing. It can be very stressful and difficult to stay positive when caring for people with dementia, especially for a prolonged period of time. As a carer, it’s important to consider your own physical and mental wellbeing, and a great way of doing this is ensuring you’re able to take a break from caring. Many care homes including Hallmark offer respite care alongside longer term dementia care, giving you the opportunity for a break.