Christmas is approaching, and many people will have a relative with dementia. It may be a new diagnosis or one they’ve had for some time; either way, it’s a good time to do some research and get advice on how best to look after them during the Christmas season. You will want to visit them often, help with their general routines, communicate with them, and ensure they’re getting the best nutrition possible. Below are some points on how to best look after a relative with dementia.
How you communicate with your relative with dementia is very important. It’s a skill that requires patience and experience. You don’t want them to feel uncomfortable or afraid, especially if they’re having a hallucination or if they think they’re asking a question for the first time. Always respond to them as if you’re talking to them for the first time and in the moment. You can use touch to help bring them back from a troubling hallucination; hugging them and touching their hand is also very comforting.
Recognize Triggers and Stay Calm
Because of the nature of dementia –a degenerative brain disease – people can have hallucinations, depression, anxiety, agitation, aggression, and loss of inhibition. These side effects can be difficult to handle and, in some cases, dangerous. A mental health professional will handle their medication, but you can help with their Alzheimer’s care by understanding their triggers and staying calm. Even if they give you abuse, you need to learn not to take it personally and show them kindness instead of frustration or anger.
Help Them Stay Organized
Dementia is a degenerative illness, which means that the person will slowly lose their ability to perform their routine tasks. However, these abilities don’t disappear overnight, and a person may feel unwanted or useless if you suddenly start doing everything for them. Instead, begin by slowly helping with their morning or nightly routine. Having a routine such as this is also good for the memory and retaining control for longer.
Maintain Social Connections
It’s very important to maintain a good social connection with your relative with dementia, even if it’s only ten minutes a day. Studies show that communicating with people with dementia helps to reduce their stress and agitation levels and allows them to escape from the condition. If you can’t visit your relative and take them out, then try to phone them regularly. Maintaining their social connections is always a high priority.
Maintain Proper Nutrition
A person with dementia may not be able to ask for the food they want when they want it, so you must ensure there is enough available stock to facilitate their needs. They may also be unable to know when they are hungry, so it’s a good idea to have three square meals a day. This will make sure they don’t get too hungry and that they receive the proper nutrition and stay healthy. Make a list of their favorite food items and include some food items with extra nutritional properties when you go shopping. Food can also have a powerful effect on the mind and memory.