Dementia is a debilitating disease for which there sadly is no cure. While the word “dementia” is an umbrella term that refers to several different types of dementia, the neurological changes of different subtypes are similar enough that we usually refer to age-related dementia.

Memory loss, personality changes, and general neurological decline are the common symptoms of many different types of dementia, and the onset is progressive and irreversible. It is common to have good days and bad days, and this unpredictability can make caring for loved ones with dementia a difficult task. Here are some strategies for providing care to individuals with dementia.

Expectations

Educating yourself on the nature and progression of the disease can help you create realistic expectations for success in your care. Your primary goal is optimizing their comfort, happiness, and safety. Embrace and enjoy the good days and moments, and don’t dwell on the bad days. Remember that the effects of most dementias are sadly irreversible, so continue to adjust your expectations as the disease progresses.

Practice Compassion and Empathy

It can be frustrating and painful to witness a loved one’s cognitive decline and loss of memory. It is important to try to empathize with how difficult the disease is on them as well. The kindest thing if they are confused about their whereabouts, identity, or time period is to embrace their reality rather than correcting them. Remind yourself how you would feel if you were experiencing the same confusion, and consider how you would want to be treated.

Utilize Support Systems

Remember that you will provide the best care for another person when you are caring for yourself first! Consider joining a support group or an online community of caregivers. These can be helpful outlets to discuss challenges in a safe space, learn from others what strategies are working for them, and to find additional community supports that may be available. Caring for someone with dementia is an unpredictable and challenging role, but remembering that you are not alone can help to lighten the load.

The Hamlets at Red Deer, located in Red Deer, Alberta, is at the forefront in the provision of services for those suffering from dementia in an assisted-living environment. The Hamlets at Red Deer has values based on tenets of Christianity and is committed to helping residents attain the highest physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.

If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about our Red Deer community, please call us at (403) 986-1250.