A flexible approach: tips for caring for someone living with dementia

If you care for someone living with dementia, you will be aware of the flexibility needed to provide a safe environment. Thankfully, there are some useful tips that can be enlisted to ensure you can reduce the stress and frustration that occurs when caring for someone with the condition.

When it comes to this disability Melbourne has a lot of support networks available, but here are some other pieces of advice you may like to incorporate into you and your loved one and/or patient’s daily lives to limit any frustrations attributed to the condition:

Tips for easing the role

An individual living with dementia might become stressed or irate when a simple task becomes hard to complete. To ease frustration and reduce challenges, consider the following:

  1. Create a smart schedule: By producing a daily routine, daily tasks such as medical appointments or bathing are far easier when the person is most refreshed or alert, so it is a good idea to allow flexibility for harder days or spontaneous activities.
  2. Allow space for harder tasks: Notice which tasks are creating the greatest burdens and consider allowing more time for them whilst allowing breaks in the time.
  3. Offer them simple instructions: It is best to provide the individual with clear, one-step instructions, as these are easiest for them to understand.
  4. Reduce napping: Over-napping can confuse the individual’s sense of night and day, and therefore napping should be limited so that this reversal confusion is limited.
  5. Reduce distractions: Distractions like television during meal times can confuse the individual and reduce their ability to focus.
  6. Include the individual: You shouldn’t work towards doing everything for the individual, instead allowing them to get involved and complete tasks with minimal influence. For example, if you lay out the individual’s clothes in the order they go on the individual may be able to dress themselves.
  7. Provide daily options: Choices are good for allowing the person to have a degree of independence in their lives. By providing them with dietary, social and daily task choices, you will be helping them retain an element of control over their lives.
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Maintain flexibility

Unfortunately, a person living with dementia will become more dependent on their carer. To ease stress, adapt your routine, expectations and flexibility as required.

This may include going for fewer walks if they don’t want to go or being more adaptable to a program/television show that is easier for them to follow (even if you’re not too fond of the show yourself!).

Produce a safe environment

Dementia impairs the individual’s problem-solving ability and judgement, thus increasing their risk of injury. You can create a safer environment by:

  1. Preventing falls: Avoid extension cords, clutter or scatter rugs that could cause falls. Install grab bars and handrails in important areas.
  2. Avoid burns: Lower the thermostat on the hot water heater to avoid burns as well as check the water’s temperature before bath time.
  3. Be fire safe: Smoking can present significant risks in the home of a dementia patient, so be sure to facilitate lighting their cigarettes and check the fire/carbon monoxide alarms to ensure their safety.
  4. Install locks: Install locks on cabinets that could contain anything poisonous or otherwise dangerous.

Take care of yourself, tooSelf-care is equally-important as the care you are providing to your patient or loved one. Practice self-care to reduce the risk of fatigue or burn out, even enlisting respite care when you think it might be necessary.

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