What to Expect as a Dementia Carer
When a person affected by dementia suddenly finds their mental agility in decline, it can leave them feeling scared, vulnerable and confused. Although at times it may be difficult, it’s essential that carers, family and friends do everything they can to reassure their loved one and help them maintain a sense of self-worth and of who they are. If you’re caring for someone with Dementia then your everyday care will involve a number of different facets. Read on to find out more about what you can expect from the months ahead and how to cope.
Over time Dementia sufferers can lose the ability to take care of their everyday needs like washing, dressing and eating. As a carer it’s important to ensure the person you care for stays as fit and healthy as possible, which means exercise, nutrition and regular health check-ups. Washing and dressing are both very intimate and personal so it’s essential to assist the person for as long as possible, rather than doing it for them. It’s a good idea to find out whether you are entitled to any personal care support and take advantage of it if you are.
As time goes on, your relationship with the person you care for will change a lot. It’s normal to experience feelings of loss and grief during this time. After all, you are losing the person you loved as you knew them. It really does help to keep talking about friends, family, the past and the future with the person you care for, but it’s essential that you feel supported too and have people to talk to. There are several carers’ groups in the UK and you can contact your local authority to find one near you.
You may find the person you care for asking the same questions over and over again. In most cases this is to do with feeling anxious and needing reassurance. Try to encourage them to find the answer to the question themselves and avoid telling them about future events too far in advance as it can lead to them repeatedly asking about it.
If the person you care for repeatedly does something like tidy a drawer or pack a bag, it could relate to something from their past such as an activity they carried out at work, or it could be that they’re bored and need to be occupied. If doing something repeatedly makes them feel less anxious then try to find something else they’ll enjoy doing such as knitting, baking or painting. If someone is walking up and down or moving around a lot it could be that they are in discomfort. Check they are warm enough and not hungry or thirsty and if you think they could be in pain or ill then contact your GP.
When caring for someone with Dementia there may come a time when you can’t care for them in the home any longer. It’s important to consider the financial implications of long term care before you need it and find out whether you can get funding help. You can contact your local authority or talk to your social worker to find out more about different care options and how you can pay for them.
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Jan Stevens has a demonstrable passion for elderly care and has a great deal of experience working with dementia patients. She currently works as a staff co-ordinator for St Georges Agency, a care agency based in Essex, UK.