7 Tips for Dementia Caregivers
Neha Sinha, CEO, Epoch Elder Care is collaborating with us in designing Kokoro, an online course for caregivers of Dementia. Neha and Kriti, Research, Curriculum Design and Grants Associate at BrainSightAI co-wrote this blog for caregivers who are figuring out their first steps.
Taking care of someone with Dementia can be challenging and emotionally draining for many caregivers. Not only does one have to deal with their own anger and grief associated with the diagnosis , but also learn to navigate one’s new identity as a caregiver. To make this process just a little bit easier, we have gathered some tips and tricks that can help caregivers in their battle with this devastating disease.
Self-care This is first on the list because checking-in with yourself is going to be key throughout this long journey. At the end of the day, you have to put on your oxygen mask first to be able to help others. Consider developing a self-care routine where you engage in activities that you personally enjoy. Reach out to loved ones, support groups, or other caregiver resources to share your feelings and make sense of your experiences.
Be patient Dealing with challenging behaviors, communications gaps, and memory-related concerns might get overwhelming and frustrating. Firstly, it is important to remind yourself that these feelings are completely valid. Second, remind yourself that these challenges are out of your loved one’s control. Using this as a reminder to help build patience can go a long way in creating a more positive environment around you and your loved one.
Simplify your communication  Difficulty in expressing oneself / loss of language is one of the common symptoms of dementia. To tackle this challenge, it is important to simplify your communication as much as possible. Speak in short, simple sentences. Try minimizing distractions in the surrounding environment. Be conscious of your non-verbal communication.
Establish a daily routine for your loved one  Dementia can make simple everyday tasks seem like stressful activities. Having a daily routine in which your loved one knows what to expect can bring them a great deal of comfort.
Understand the benefits of therapeutic lying  Oftentimes, individuals with dementia tend to forget important things about their lives, such as the loss of a spouse or move to a new house. While you may want to help the individual recall events as they occurred to ground them in reality, this can actually cause your loved one a great deal of stress leading to other consequences such as refusal to accept care. Also in addition, loss of short term memory results in them forgetting the new information. In certain situations, it might be best to play along with their current belief system rather than correcting them.
Connect with their emotions  While your loved one’s beliefs might not always be oriented to the current situation, their emotions are. This understanding can help you connect with your loved one on a deeper level, where you are able to understand their experiences better and communicate with empathy.
Seek help The idea that you might not be able to provide the care your loved one needs can be disappointing and difficult to accept. However, if you are at this stage, opting for external assistance can improve the quality of life of both you and your loved one.
If you are a caregiver to someone with Dementia, please sign up for Kokoro, a 4 - week online course (21 Feb - 20 Mar) to help you understand the illness and learn skills to cope with imminent changes in your life.