Dementia Care At Home: An Easy Guide For Caregivers

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Dementia care at home can be challenging for the caregiver. Here’s a handy guide for caregivers from an expert.

When an older adult suffers from Dementia, all the focus is on the disease and its effect on that person. We often tend to forget about the caregiver whose task is very difficult and at the same time might not get acknowledged. It is not easy to get up every day beside someone for whom you do everything with utmost sincerity, but its returns don’t get ever recognised due to the person’s condition. Caregiver stress is very important and should never be neglected. There are many ways that the caregiver can manage the older adult with dementia at home, though it isn’t an easy task. The challenges for a caregiver often come from behavioural problems of the person with Dementia that include:
1.Aggressive behaviour
2. Wandering
3. Repetitive talks and actions

Communicating the right way with the person with Dementia is the key here. Here are some guidelines that may help:
• Be supportive in more than one way: Assume a reassuring, unhurried stance. Show that you care, that you are fully there for them, and encourage them to talk or otherwise express their feelings.
Facts don’t help, but feelings do: Many persons with Dementia react positively to sensory connections, expressed by a way of gentle voice, a soothing touch, a gentle massage or calming music.
Body Language: Look at your loved one with Dementia in the eye, speak directly and softly, using a friendly tone and demeanour.

Mirroring: Persons with Dementia tend to mirror the caregiver’s feelings at any given time – So you too can benefit from that, just by showing, rather than telling, what you want them to do.

Sensory touch works often Image: Pixabay

Avoid criticism or arguments. Try to read the signs and discern what feelings they are trying to express.

Be clear and concise. Don’t use complex language, give multistep instructions or ask questions that offer options.

Simple works: Keep it simple one step at a time, use pointers or cues to explain things.

If your loved one is agitated: Try changing the scene or the dynamics of what you are doing.

Above all, go easy on yourself. Forgive yourself every time you deem that you took the wrong path in each situation.

Mealtimes can often be problematic. Here are some suggestions on making mealtimes easier for people with Dementia.

1. Maintaining familiar routines and serving favourite foods can help the person know what to expect and feel more relaxed.
2. Make the eating area quiet. Turn off the TV and radio.
3. Offer just one food at a time instead of filling the plate or table with too many options.
4. Don’t rush. Be patient and give the person enough time to finish the meal.
5. A meal is a good opportunity for social interaction. You can set the mood with a warm and happy tone of voice.
6. Cut food into small pieces and make it soft enough to eat, which will help with chewing and swallowing.

September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day and observing the month of September as the Dementia month, Silver Talkies is covering various aspects of Dementia to create awareness. Click here for other related stories.

About Author

Dr Naganath Narasimhan Prem

Dr Naganath Narasimhan Prem is MBBS, MD Geriatric Medicine and Consultant Geriatrician, Elderly Care Specialist at Jaslok Hospital and Research Center, Mumbai. He also heads the dedicated one of its kind Geriatric Care department at Jaslok Hospital and is passionate about spreading the word on the importance of geriatric care management and services for senior citizens.