April 19, 2018
Dementia creates big changes both for your elderly family member and for you as her caregiver. But when she doesn’t remember or realize that she’s dealing with dementia, things get more complicated.
Maintain Respectful Treatment at All Times
It’s unfortunately really easy for family members to infantilize or otherwise accidentally disrespect an adult who has dementia. The more you’re aware of that tendency, however, the easier it can be for you to avoid that sort of reaction to her and to what she does. Just remember that she’s someone who you love and respect and keep that in the forefront of your mind.
Give Yourself Time Away When You’re Feeling Stressed
Helping an elderly family member who has dementia can create a lot of tension and stress for you. It’s much more difficult when you’re feeling stressed to respond in the ways that you wish you would all the time. Taking regular time away can help you with that, but you need to actually do so. Home care providers can step in for you and care for your senior while you take the time that you need.
Keep Communication Calm and Even
When you’re frustrated, you’re more likely to raise your voice or to use a tone of voice that your senior doesn’t understand. The truth is, she’ll understand a pained tone of voice, but she won’t know why you’re using it with her. The more even and positive your vocal tones, body language, and facial expressions are, the easier communication will be.
Remember It’s Not about Right or Wrong
Often when you’re helping a family member who has dementia, they’re going to say or do something that isn’t technically “right.” But if you focus on right and wrong, it’s going to create problems. In the grand scheme of things, the actual answer probably doesn’t matter. Arguing about it is only going to confuse your family member and create strife.
Give Her Choices
As much as you can, offer choices to your elderly family member. When you do that, you’re empowering her and you’re also giving her a chance to have a say in what has become a confusing world for her. Keep in mind that offering too many choices is just as bad as not offering her any at all. Limit the choices that you offer and stick with what she chooses.
Your elderly family member may never realize that she has dementia, but that doesn’t mean that how you treat the situation changes. Do what you need to do for yourself and for her in order to keep her as safe, comfortable, and happy as you possibly can.