When we were children, our parents looked after us. They bathed us, soothed us to sleep, and made sure we had enough to eat. As our parents get older, more often than not they require more help and support. Sometimes this can simply be because they’re less mobile than they once were. Other times it can be because they are suffering from a health condition like dementia.
Studies have shown that in the US alone, over five million people over the age of 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, a form of dementia. If a relative has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia, you are most probably reeling from the shock. It might be hard, but the first thing you need to do is decide whether you want to care for them at home. Or, whether putting them into a residential care home might be a better option.
If you decide to care for them at home, then you need to know how to go about it, just like when dealing with any illness.
Read up about their type of dementia
The first thing that you need to do is research the type of dementia that your relative is suffering from. Dementia is an umbrella term that covers various mental health diseases. These tend to incorporate memory problems, a lack of understanding of the world, and personality changes. So, for instance, your relative may have Pick’s Disease or Alzheimer’s Disease, both of which are different types of dementia. Although there are similarities between all types of dementia, it’s important to know as much as you can about the type your relative has. As the better understanding you have of it, the more you can help them.
Consider getting some help
Right now, your relative may not require constant care, but eventually, they will need a lot more support. So it’s a good idea to think about getting some sort of help for them. This could be specialist Alzheimer’s care, if they suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, or it could simply be hiring a nurse. As well as considering some care for when your relative is at home, have a look at local day care facilities for older people. These are great for dementia sufferers as they offer day to day activities to keep them happy and occupied. They also offer social activities, allowing them to socialize with other dementia sufferers.
Find ways to make life more enjoyable for them
There are lots of ways you can make life more enjoyable for a relative suffering from dementia. It’s just a case of working out what types of things appeal to them. Studies have shown that Busy Blankets are ideal for keeping dementia sufferers occupied. (These are blankets with blankets with zips, buttons, and other bits and bobs on.) These are good because they give them something to fiddle with, helping to calm and soothe them. Thus making outbursts of anger or stress less likely. Another way to improve their quality of life is to make their bedroom more dementia friendly. This means swapping normal chest of drawers and wardrobes for one’s with plastic fronts. This is so that they can see what’s inside. A lot of dementia sufferers get scared of what’s inside of things, and so, constantly pull drawers and cupboard doors open. It’s also a good idea to get rid of any mirrors. As sometimes people with dementia no longer recognize their own reflections and end up scaring themselves.
Caring for a relative who has dementia at home isn’t easy to do, but with the right support in place, it is doable.