I have spent many years assisting caregivers just like you. Caregivers frequently ask for the “right way” to respond to the challenges they encounter. While there is no one-size-fits-all formula, there are tried and true proven techniques to help you. Utilize these five techniques that can empower you and make your situation more manageable:
1. Take Time and Just Be
Spend time with no pressure, no agenda, no tasks, no judgment and no expectations. Allow the person to be who they are now. Keep in mind you can only tell the person with dementia what they can handle, and they can handle less and less.
2. Don’t Ask Questions or Give Too Much Information
Questions can be distressing at the best of times and can put pressure on people. Questions simply become too much information for the person with dementia to process. KEEP IT SIMPLE!
3. Remain Calm, Confident, Patient and Present in the Moment
Although people with dementia may seem distant or confused at times, their emotions and feelings remain. Hold their hand, give them a hug. Show them compassion and care. Think of these three lines of my favourite Maya Angelou’s poem:
“People will forget what you said,
People will forget what you did,
But they will never forget how you made them feel”.
4. Ask for Help from Family and Care Professionals.
Caregivers often feel obligated to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the person they are caring for. Regular family meetings and good communication can help clear the air before things reach a breaking point. If you are the primary caregiver, be sure you remember to take care of yourself. It is essential to everyone’s well-being that you remain in good health and can balance your care responsibilities with your own happiness.
5. Educate Yourself
The more you understand about the various causes of the dementia symptoms, the more you’ll see that your loved one’s behaviors and changes are par for the course. Keep in mind “it takes a village to care for someone presenting dementia symptoms”. You must gather your “villagers” (family members, friends, trained professionals, community resources) in order to successfully make it across the finish line in the “dementia care marathon”.