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Slideshow: 10 Dementia Care Dos & Don'ts for Family Caregivers

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Dementia is a progressive disease, which means it will get worse over time. For some people, dementia progresses rapidly. For others, it takes years to reach an advanced stage. One of the biggest challenges for family caregivers of older adults with dementia is not knowing what’s going to happen next.

The Stages of Dementia

In the mild stages, your loved one may be able to perform their daily routines without difficulty. By the moderate stages, they might start to have trouble doing routine tasks that they always did. In the severe stages, however, they will need to have help with day-to-day activities.

Because people with dementia progress through these stages at different speeds and with differing symptoms, it is helpful to focus on helping your loved one live well with dementia and meeting their needs at that time.

Changes in the Brain Caused by Dementia

Dementia isn’t just about memory loss, such as forgetting someone’s name or where you parked. Although a common symptom of dementia is a decline in memory, there are other symptoms that impact an individual’s ability to perform everyday activities independently.

Other common symptoms include less motivation and lack of initiative, changes in language and communication skills, and mood changes such as depression and/or anxiety. These changes can be one of the most upsetting aspects of caring for someone with dementia.

Although it can be hard to understand why people with dementia act the way they do, the explanation is attributable to their disease and the changes it causes in the brain. It’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the common situations that arise when someone has dementia so that you know how to respond calmly and effectively.

Here’s a look at 10 dementia care dos and don’ts for family caregivers.

For more information about what you can expect as a family caregiver for a loved one with dementia, download our eBook When Is the Right Time for Memory Care?, a guide for family caregivers on how to know when it’s the right time to consider moving an elderly parent or loved one to a memory care community.

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Slideshow: 10 Dementia Care Dos & Don'ts for Family Caregivers

  1. 1. 10 Dementia Care Dos & Don’ts for Family Caregivers Although it can be hard to understand why people with dementia act the way they do, the explanation is attributable to their disease and the changes it causes in the brain. It’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the common situations that arise when someone has dementia so that you know how to respond calmly and effectively. Here’s a look at 10 dementia care dos and don’ts for family caregivers.
  2. 2. 1 Do: Ask Simple, Answerable Questions Ask one question at a time. Refrain from asking open-ended questions or giving too many choices. Visual clues can also help clarify your question.
  3. 3. 2 When your loved one says things that don’t make sense or are clearly untrue, it’s not worth it to argue with them. They believe what they’re saying because it’s what their brain is telling them! Validating their reality and allowing them to express their thoughts helps them feel calmer and happier. Don’t: Argue with Someone Who Has Dementia
  4. 4. 3 People with dementia often feel confused, anxious, and unsure. Allow them to feel what they are feeling, and respond with verbal and physical expressions of comfort, support, and reassurance. Sometimes holding hands, touching, hugging, and praise will get the person to respond when all else fails. Do: Respond with Affection and Reassurance
  5. 5. 4 Seniors are at higher risk for problems related to medication side effects or drug interactions. Additionally, medications sometimes make dementia symptoms worse or create new problems. Check with the doctor first before using medication to treat dementia symptoms. Don’t: Rely on Medications
  6. 6. 5 If you’re helping your older adult with an activity of daily living and they get agitated or combative, it can help to stop and take a short break. When you come back and approach it calmly, they’ll often be more cooperative. Do: Take Breaks
  7. 7. 6 Seeing a loved one suddenly become suspicious, jealous, or accusatory is unsettling. Remember, what the person is experiencing is very real to them. It is best not to argue or disagree. Try not to take it personally. Don’t: Take Things Personally
  8. 8. 7 Many people with dementia may not remember what happened 45 minutes ago, but they can clearly recall their lives 45 years earlier. Try asking general questions about your loved one’s distant past. Do: Remember the Good Old Days
  9. 9. 8 Your loved one has a brain disorder that shapes who they have become. When you try to control or change his behavior, you’ll most likely be unsuccessful or be met with resistance. It’s important to try to accommodate the behavior, not control the behavior. Don’t: Change the Person
  10. 10. 9 Caregiving, especially dementia care, can be a lonely and exhausting job. Instead of doing everything alone, talk about your challenges and reach out to people who can help. Locate your nearest Area Agency on Aging or the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to find support groups, organizations, and services that can help you. Do: Seek Support
  11. 11. 10 Memory care is a special kind of long- term care designed to meet the specific needs of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia or types of memory problems. Because of this, there is no downside to placing a loved one in a memory care community too soon. However, there are many drawbacks to waiting too long. Don’t: Wait to Accept Help
  12. 12. So how do you know when it is the right time to consider moving your loved one to a specialized memory care community? The answer is not going to be the same for everybody, but there are signs you can watch for. To learn more, download our eBook When Is the Right Time for Memory Care? 6 Signs It Is Time for Memory Care Get the eBook!
  13. 13. Who We Are Our customers take comfort in the fact that The Arbors is a locally owned family business. Our residents are proud to call The Arbors home with our exceptional staff and the kind of experience that comes only from a family owned and operated company who pays attention to the little details. ®The Arbors. All Rights Reserved.

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