Dementia and the Family Caregiver: Tips for Coping

When a loved one is first diagnosed with dementia, family members often feel a variety of emotions. They might wonder how their relationship with their loved one will change as the result of the diagnosis. They might feel unsure how to provide support to their family member as they struggle to cope themselves. A diagnosis of dementia poses significant challenges for close family members and caregivers of the patient and often leaves them feeling isolated. In fact, as dementia progresses, it’s not uncommon for full-time caregivers of patients to develop depression. Below we will discuss some tips for family members and caregivers of dementia patients:

Take care of yourself. First thing’s first: you have to make your own health a priority. That means monitoring yourself for depression, anxiety, and burnout. Get adequate sleep at night. Visit your doctor for regular check-ups. Make time for exercise and be mindful of your nutrition. Ask for help when you need it; calling in reinforcements isn’t a sign of weakness. Consider joining a caregiver support group so you can socialize with others who can relate to the unique challenges caregivers face.

Be respectful. It’s important for caregivers to always respect the patient. When diagnosed with dementia, patients often struggle with the loss of independence. This loss of independence coupled with the accompanying feelings of frustration results in significantly lowered self-esteem for many patients. Even when dealing with difficult behavior, it’s essential that loved ones remember to treat the patient with dignity and respect. Avoid shaming or embarrassing the patient for behaviors they can’t control.

Educate yourself. Learn everything you can about the disease as soon as you can. Preparation is key; it will help you know what to expect so you’re not caught off guard by the challenges associated with caring for someone with dementia.

Allow the patient to maintain a sense of independence. Of course, there will be times when you’ll have to do things for the patient. Whenever possible, though, allow the patient to handle tasks himself– or with a bit of assistance. This allows the patient to maintain a sense of independence and is a self-esteem booster.

Establish a daily routine. In a time where life often feels confusing and out of control, a predictable routine provides dementia patients with a sense of calm and order. Fill the daily routine with small tasks and let the patient handle whatever tasks she’s capable of handling herself.

Plan enjoyable activities. What did the patient enjoy doing prior to the diagnosis? Was she an avid gardener? Did he like to play cards? Attempt to incorporate these hobbies into your caregiving time, even if it means adapting them to reflect the patient’s capabilities.   

At Comfort Plus, we are serious about providing our customers with the best incontinence products coupled with top-notch customer service. Please contact us today and learn how our products can help your loved one live more comfortably while maintaining a sense of dignity.

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