In 2020, approximately 21.3% of Americans were family caregivers. This rate translates to roughly 53 million American adults giving care to a family member with special needs. Every year, the number of family caregivers is growing for two reasons: first, the increasing population of the elderly; second, the prevalence of health conditions, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Most often, dementia is clinically diagnosed when the cognitive impairment reaches the mild stage or Stage 3 of the Global Deterioration Scale. The person exhibits mild indications of memory decline. At this stage, staying at home is still possible, and as it typically happens, adult children take the role of family caregivers.
Ways to Care For Someone With Dementia
For children who have no background in caregiving, taking the role can be daunting. Thus, many take informal education by using various online resources with the aim to be better caregivers to their loved ones. Here are additional tips on ways to care for someone with dementia.
Handling Challenges with Communication
Communication is key to maintaining relationships. With dementia affecting our loved one’s ability to speak and express their thoughts, it becomes more challenging to connect. Here are a few methods to handle the rift in communication.
1. Speak with respect
Even if your loved one remembers you or not, treat them with respect and speak from the heart. Eventually, they won’t be able to catch up to conversations due to memory loss, so you need to adjust your level of communication. This way, you can talk at the same wavelength as them and have a good conversation.
2. Listen attentively
As your loved one’s semantic memory declines, their communication ability also does. Soon, they will find it hard to recall the right words to relay their thoughts. They’ll have problems with speech and difficulty naming objects. If you ask them, it may take a few minutes before they answer. Nevertheless, don’t pressure them to talk nor cut them off while they speak. Be patient and really listen.
3. Use simple words
A person with dementia finds it challenging to learn or remember words. Thus, you should avoid using complex texts, so they don’t confuse the meaning of what you’re trying to convey. Speak common words and scripts. For better communication, accompany your talks with body language, like a handshake, a tap on the shoulder, or a warm hug.
4. Respond with affection
Make each moment memorable by making your loved ones feel your affection in every interaction. Things like paying attention, saying I love you, showing kindness, and making more time for them are simple gestures of love. Let them feel you are always there, and make each moment count.
Dealing with Behavioral Changes
The changes in behavior are usually caused by the loss of neurons or cells in the brain. Depending on which area of the brain is losing cells, it manifests through behavioral and personality changes that are hard to deal with.
Here are a few tips to help you manage a situation where loved ones begin to act in ways very unlike their “old self.”
1. Maintain a positive attitude
Other communication factors such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and attitude send out stronger feelings than words. So when loved ones are upset, agitated, or depressed, maintain a positive disposition and show it through your actions, words, and attitude.
2. Learn how to distract
Distraction has a negative connotation. However, when dealing with a senior parent affected with dementia, knowing how to distract is good. When the person starts to exhibit impulsive responses, use distractions, like changing a topic or engaging them in other activities to redirect their focus.
Stay away from triggers that affect your dear ones behavior, like a public or crowded place.
3. Talk to the doctor
Have a serious talk with your doctor about medications that may help manage problematic behaviors. Also, make sure you know the side effects of each drug. If non-drug management approaches don’t ease neuropsychiatric symptoms, like hallucinations and delusions, medications may be an alternative. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers may help, but make sure you talk with your doctor about doses and appropriate drug treatments in detail.
4. Respite care
For family caregivers, each day is going to be full of adversities. If you especially belong to the sandwich generation — meaning you juggle care responsibilities between an elder parent and children — it’s essential to take some days off for self-care. Recharge and get enough rest, so you can be at your best when giving care. Taking a break is the only way to keep your humor and sanity.
Addressing the Rising Demand for Care
As dementia progresses, the care demands of the person also grow. This means more tasks for the family caregiver. You can ask other family members to help out with the remaining tasks during weekends or rest days. Plus, here are some recommendations to handle the growing care demands.
1. Loss of appetite
Dementia will start to affect a person’s appetite. Some may forget to chew and swallow their food. Ill-fitting dentures and the lack of physical activity add up to losing appetite. Check with your doctor if there’s a treatable underlying cause other than dementia-related causes. Also, a meal routine helps, so try to serve balanced meals at the same time every day.
2. Bathroom accidents and dementia
Bathroom injuries are one of the leading causes of accidents in the US. The risk of injuries, like slips and falls, heightens for people with memory loss. You can diminish bathroom accidents by simple home modifications, like using a high-contrast color door to identify the toilet, installing grab rails, and using a raised toilet seat.
3. Overall home safety
Consider making home improvements, such as installing indoor and outdoor lights, repairing uneven walkways, and maintaining an organized place. These simple home upgrades help loved ones with dementia stay safely at home for a longer time.
Choosing a Senior Living Option
After some time, the quality and amount of care that a loved one receives at home won’t suffice. They need to move to a safer environment where trained dementia caregivers can support them. Depending on a person’s level of self-dependency, families can choose between an assisted living or a memory care community.
You can talk to a dementia advisor or elicit suggestions from care experts to avoid misinformation or misdirection. From the first consultation to the move, the decision-making process can be stressful. Therefore, getting support from people who have the industry knowledge and the capability to give sound advice is another burden lifted.
Improving Quality of Life in Assisted Living and Memory Care
If staying at home starts to take a toll on the mental and physical health of the caregiver; it’s time to consider a transition. Moving to an environment specifically designed to care for individuals with dementia can improve their quality of life. Here, they receive all kinds of support: physical, emotional, mental, and social, to live each day with fulfilment. With the help of trained dementia caregivers, loved ones can conserve their independence for as long as possible.
When should a person with dementia go into a care home?
If the main family caregiver can’t keep up with the growing care demands, the best course of action is to transition into residential care or care home.
How long do dementia patients live in a nursing home?
In a study of 11 hospice individuals with severe dementia in a nursing home, patients survived for two days up to over 16 months. This supports that people in nursing facilities are either at risk for unpredictable and sudden passing or living for a few years more.
Do you have to pay for care if you have dementia?
Yes. You can find several financing options to pay for long-term care. One option is Medicare, which is the main source of health coverage for people 65 and above. It helps cover the cost of prescription drugs, inpatient hospital care, and other care costs if eligible. Personal assets can also be a source of funds for long-term dementia care. To know more about this, ask Senex Memory Advisors.
Do nursing homes accept dementia patients?
Yes, besides memory care communities, nursing homes also support dementia patients with serious medical needs. They offer rehabilitative services, like physical and occupational therapies, to maintain their quality of life.
If you can’t decide between memory care or skilled nursing, talk to your loved ones, your family, your doctor, and a dementia advisor to determine which is the best option for your loved one’s situation.
Do dementia patients need 24-hour care?
It depends on what stage of dementia the person is in. If the person is in the early stage of dementia, where symptoms are mild, they don’t need 24-hour care. In most cases, they’re still capable of living at home. However, from the middle to late stage of dementia, 24-hour monitoring and supervision become necessary to keep people with cognitive impairment safe.
Does Medicare cover nursing home care for dementia?
Following a hospital stay, Medicare will cover the care cost in a nursing home for 100 days under conditions. Additionally, if the individual is considered “homebound,” Medicare will shoulder the cost for home health care for up to 35 hours per week.
Senex Memory Advisors offer no cost professional advice to families on choosing the right Assisted Living and Memory Care communities. They not only assist in evaluating your parents needs, but they also provide possible solutions when parents need assisted living.
Their proprietary assessment tool is designed to reduce costs by finding the most appropriate solutions for assisted living or memory care communities for seniors. Senex Memory Advisors work with you to find the best-fit solution for aging parents.
Senex Memory Advisors offers no cost professional advice to families on choosing the right Assisted Living and Memory Care communities. Their proprietary assessment tool is designed to reduce costs by finding the most appropriate solutions. If you have questions on finding an assisted living or memory care for your loved one, click here to discuss your queries with a certified dementia advisor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Syed has years of experience dealing with people, understanding their needs, and helping them find solutions to their problems.
As a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP), Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional (CMDCP), Syed is committed to working closely with Senior and their family knowing what is it like for individuals facing a challenging time, at times groping in dark trying to figure what is the appropriate next step or care level for their unique situation.
Syed and Senex Memory Advisors are fully committed to working closely with families in creating a personalized, step-by-step process memory care plan at zero cost.