According to the World Health Organization, around 50 million worldwide have dementia — and nearly 10 million new cases are being added each year. With the numbers projected to keep rising, it’s essential to know your options if a loved one is diagnosed with it.
To ensure your loved one receives the best possible dementia care, we broke down three key aspects needed in care: consistency, redirection, and communication.
Bluebird CEO, Stuart Brunson, and Jennifer Adams, Regional Director, discussed this topic on our podcast, Senior Care Conversations. Listen to the episode here.
Because dementia causes deterioration in memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform everyday activities, keeping their life as consistent as possible can help keep your loved one comfortable and in a better state of mind.
Staying in their home setting — the place they know, that they’ve most likely been for a long period of time — keeps their environment consistent. Not having big changes will keep your loved one comfortable with their familiar setting and make the disease process less cumbersome.
Keeping their environment consistent is important, but seeing the same people consistently can also have a big impact.
Seeing the same people every day will help build relationships, making them feel more comfortable as well. Because someone with dementia can have some short term memory issues, that can also potentially affect their long term memory — so keeping everything consistent has a better chance of them remembering.
Having a consistent routine to stick to that includes the same environment and interactions with people can be a huge help in making people with dementia more comfortable and more likely to offset the symptoms. With an in-home care agency, the caregivers will be consistent and able to keep your loved one on a routine all without leaving their home.
A common symptom with dementia is wandering — whether that be caused by becoming lost in familiar places, thinking that they are going to an old job, or a variety of other reasons. When this happens, it is important to redirect them towards a safe alternative. When we say redirect, we mean almost like a distraction — something that feels like the event they are trying to go to, but is much safer.
For example, say that someone with dementia worked at an office 50 years ago and started to get ready for work. A caregiver would recognize this and redirect them with perhaps an old typewriter that reminds them of work and feels useful. Activities that they love such as listening to their favorite music or taking a walk in the neighborhood are also useful redirections.
In order to be prepared for these events, having a set plan and recognizing the triggers is essential, but this is very difficult without the third key area — communication.
Communication Is Key
In order to build that consistent routine, have redirections ready, and be familiar with the effects of dementia, it’s important to have very good communication between the family and caregivers. Each person is different, so identifying their needs and triggers has to be done by talking it through.
From the start, if you aren’t familiar with dementia you can easily talk about it with an agency to learn about what exactly it is, what the various stages and symptoms are, and how to best take care of a loved one that has it.
Once you’re familiar with the different aspects of dementia, now comes the important part of mapping out your loved one’s needs and talking through what their usual routine is, along with what could trigger them that would need redirection. Talk through your loved one’s hobbies, favorite activities, what they used to do when they were younger — anything that gives the caregiver background information that can help develop plans that involve those passions. Caregivers will record this information so that everyone on the care team is familiar with it and prepared.
From here, caregivers can develop the care plan and start caring for your loved one, ensuring that they get the best possible care — but the communication doesn’t stop there. Caregivers should be very transparent as to what is happening in the home and give consistent updates — whether that be daily, weekly, or whatever works best for you.
Having a loved one be affected by dementia is a very difficult experience, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Involve your family to help lay out the best plan possible, and contact an agency even if you aren’t going to hire one to talk through important details.
If you are looking for an in-home care agency to help take care of your loved one, we’d be happy to talk. Our caregivers have years of experience in the field and are experts. Contact us today to learn more.