Caring for someone living with dementia involves adapting to change, sometimes daily. It also involves learning to develop new approaches to communicating with a family member.
For carers trying to break old habits and familiar roles can be difficult, especially for spouses. But changing the way you approach everyday tasks and being mindful of the way you communicate can significantly reduce the stress involved in caregiving. It can also improve your relationship as the dynamics change.
As frustrating as some behaviours associated with dementia can be, it’s important to remind yourself that people with dementia cannot always control their symptoms. They are not deliberately setting out to annoy you. Equally your own attitude and behaviour may be annoying to them!
People with dementia get frustrated and anxious too. When your memory is failing you constantly, even the smallest opportunity for success can be crucial to your self-esteem.
Instead try with everything you do to create meaningful interactions by:
- Choosing activities that the person can do; not what they can’t do
- Helping them get started by taking small steps
- Focusing on the process not the end result
- Adjusting your expectations and allowing the person opportunities for success
- Praising and reassuring a person often
- Being mindful of your body language and tone of voice
Many carers unknowingly push people with dementia beyond their capabilities, setting them up for failure. In stressful situations it can be easy to focus on someone’s failures or worse scald a person for difficult behaviour. Problem is it just doesn’t help and most carers are left feeling defeated and guilty.
Your body language and tone of voice can tell someone a lot about how you feel toward them. It’s important to keep this in mind when caring for someone living with dementia.
As a caregiver you are in a great position to ensure a person with dementia experiences small triumphs every day. Take a deep breath and enjoy time with a loved one!