When a friend or relative is diagnosed with dementia, it is normal to feel uncertain of how to interact with them and what to say. The person you love is going to change in many ways, but it’s important to remember that they are still the same person.
Here are a few ways of supporting your loved one on a daily basis:
- It’s the little things that matter. Whether your loved one has the early symptoms of dementia or the disease has been progressing for a long time, you can help them every day with small gestures. You could cook them a meal, make them a cup of tea or just ask them how their day has been. If you are not living with them, you could call, visit, or send a postcard. Showing someone that you care about their wellbeing is a great way of interacting with them and helping them feel important.
- Focus on what they can do, not what they can’t. The person you care for may still enjoy the things they used to like, so instead of limiting them, consider in what ways they can continue as normal. Feeling happy and fulfilled is vital to having a good quality of life so you could make a list of ‘can-do’ activities – this might include going for short walks, visiting the cinema or an art gallery, as well as cooking or gardening with supervision. Your loved one can still have fun, so take the time to enjoy every day.
- Ask for their opinion. Sometimes we can get caught up in assuming we know what’s best for others, and this is especially true when caring for people with dementia. In particular, it might become a habit to make decisions about what they should wear, what they should eat, and what activities they should do. When you’re caring for a loved one with dementia, try to ask them for their input and let them continue making decisions as long as they are able to do so. You should also engage them in decisions about their welfare and health to ensure they get a say in how they are cared for.
- Include them in conversations. As the illness progresses, holding a conversation with a person who has dementia will gradually become a challenge. For those who are living with dementia, watching other people talk or do things without being included may foster feelings of loneliness. They may have difficulties finding the right words or may repeat the same sentences over and over, but that shouldn’t mean they are excluded from the conversation. With patience and understanding from the people around them, they could very well enjoy having a chat. Make sure you speak clearly, make eye contact, give them as much time as they need and don’t interrupt them when they make a mistake. Allow your loved one to express themselves however they can, no matter how long it takes them.
- Help them remember. Both short- and long-term memory will be affected by dementia so there will be many things your loved one might forget, including how to tie shoelaces, how to read a clock and the names of individuals, among others. Leaving small notes around the house reminding them where things are and phone numbers by the phone can help them manage day-to-day. To help them remember the past, you could create photo albums, play classic films or music from their younger days.
Depending on when symptoms start, a person with dementia could live for decades after their diagnosis, so value this time and make the most of it. However, as it’s impossible to tell how quickly dementia will progress, one of the first things you should come to grips with are the legal and financial matters relating to dementia. Age UK, the NHS and other organisations that assist people with dementia and their families all emphasise the importance of handling these concerns as soon as possible.
Eldermera provides a complete service
Eldermera knows that the most important thing to you is your family so as soon as a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, help them to contact Eldermera. With us by your side, we can start the important process of writing a will, arranging for lasting power of attorney and planning for ongoing care.
At Eldermera, we can arrange every aspect of dementia care, including paperwork, care services, NHS funding and more. Our team of qualified experts understand that every situation is unique and every dementia patient is an individual; that’s why we tailor our services specifically to the person affected.
To find out how Eldermera can help your family, use our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our expert care advocates.
Alternatively, call us on:
0330 022 5778
0207 030 4923