Caring for someone with dementia requires a degree of flexibility and ability to increase the amount of care given as time goes on. It is a difficult task but one that is important for family members to be part of. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia that requires complete home care. 7 of 10 people who have Alzheimer’s live at home and about 75% of their home care is provided by family. There’s no set rules when caring for someone with dementia because each person experiences dementia specific to their situation. It is important for caregivers to anticipate what may be need while at the same time allowing as much independence as safely possible. Treat them like a person, be patient, kind and consider their feelings. Focus on their remaining abilities and help them create ways to compensate for their declining abilities. People with dementia will often keep social skills and a sense of humor and may continue to enjoy socializing and interacting with others.
Memory is one of the biggest factors to consider. Short-term memory loss will result in forgetting what they were told to do two minutes ago and long-term memories may contrast starkly with their inability to remember what happened just a few minutes ago. The greatest difficulty is with activities that require concentration as people with dementia may react negatively when asked to make changes in their lifestyle. This is why caregivers should be prepared to deal with those people who become agitated either with their environment or with themselves because they cannot sort things out properly, clearly understand what is being asked of them or think that people are stealing from them as they cannot remember where they have put items. It’s important never ask to test their memory with games to determine their remembrance of where they are or someone’s name. This is cruel and also a trigger for them to become agitated.
Safety issues are crucial to consider when caring for someone with dementia. Both inside and outside the home should be clean to easily move around minimizing the risk of injuries. Adequate lighting throughout the home should be available so that individuals whose sight may be failing, will be able to adequately see. Try to avoid unnecessary mirrors in the home because they change the depth perception in the room and as their dementia progresses, they may no longer remember their own appearance and become frightened believing that someone else is present.