Nearly 8 million new cases of dementia are diagnosed each year. If your loved one has been diagnosed, here’s how to deal with dementia.
With an increasingly aging population, that number is bound to increase over the next few decades.
Dealing with dementia is hard enough for the person suffering from the disorder.
Yet, caregivers and loved ones often have it just as bad. This is especially true when the disorder advances to mid- and late-stage dementia.
Today, we’re bringing you a guide on caring for individuals with mid- to late-stage dementia.
That way, you know the top things to do and not to do when it comes to helping your loved one with dementia.
Ready to learn our top 7 tips for success?
Then you’ve got to keep reading this article for absolutely everything you need to know about how to deal with dementia when it impacts someone you love.
7 Tips for Caring for a Loved One with Dementia
Mid- to late-stage dementia creates a whole host of challenges that caregivers need to learn how to deal with.
Here are 7 dos and don’ts when you’re caring for a loved one who’s been diagnosed with dementia.
Don’t Criticize What They Can’t Control
It can be frustrating when your loved one with dementia makes mistakes that could’ve been avoided if they would only ask for help.
Yet, imagine how much worse things must be for your loved one.
They can no longer do simple tasks they used to perform with ease.
Instead of telling your loved one all the things they’ve done wrong this week, practice empathy.
Even if you’re fed up with yet another unpaid rent bill, avoid questioning your loved one’s capabilities out loud.
This may lead them to feel defensive, which could manifest as anger or aggression in individuals with dementia.
Do Ask If and How You Can Help
For individuals with mid- to late-stage dementia, asking for help can be a serious blow to their pride.
Instead of waiting for them to ask, gently offer your assistance with tasks.
Some people with dementia still want to feel a sense of control over their life.
In these cases, you can offer to assist with part of the task.
For example, your loved one may need help taking the right medications on time.
Ask if you can help organize their weekly pillbox or set alarms when it’s time to take their meds.
That way, your loved one can feel empowered to self-administer their medications.
And you can rest easy knowing they’ll take the right pills on time.
Don’t Engage with Aggressive Behaviors
Anger and aggression are common symptoms of mid-to-late stage dementia.
Often, their anger is a perfectly logical response to being confused or helpless.
Trying to argue with a loved one in this state can exacerbate the problem.
Also, avoid correcting all the wrong things your loved one with dementia says.
At the end of the day, the accuracy of the information isn’t important to your loved one.
All that matters to them is that they’re being heard and respected.
Do Try to Understand the Source of Their Anger
When your loved one gets angry or aggressive, remain calm and work to de-escalate the situation.
The best strategy to use is to calmly divert the person’s attention from the troubling issue at hand.
If the person with dementia is your loved one, you have an advantage.
Use what you know about your loved one to identify the source of their anger.
Once you understand why they’re feeling angry or aggressive, you can help them work through these feelings and avoid the same problem in the future.
Don’t Talk Down to Them
A person with dementia is still a person.
That means you should treat them with the same respect as you do healthy individuals.
Part of respecting your loved one is talking to them like an adult.
Don’t brush aside their feelings or speak about them in the third-person when they’re in the room.
Keep scoldings and criticisms to a minimum to avoid injuring your loved ones’ already fragile sense of self-worth.
Do Practice Therapeutic Lies
Unfortunately, dealing with dementia means your loved one won’t always be reasonable.
That’s why practicing therapeutic lies is a good habit to get into.
Therapeutic lies are false statements that help to reduce your loved one’s confusion and anxiety surrounding their condition.
For example, elderly patients with dementia may not remember having lost a loved one.
If they continually ask about that loved one, it may be a good time to practice therapeutic lies.
After all, there’s no point in telling your loved one the truth when they’ll just have to deal with the distress of the loss all over again.
Don’t Run Yourself Ragged
This last one’s for you. As a caregiver, it can often be hard to remember that your loved one isn’t the only one who needs assistance.
You need to take care of yourself, too, and when things get tough, empower yourself by asking for respite.
Gather a list of family, friends, and memory care specialists who can lend you a hand when you need a break.
Don’t beat yourself up for it, either. Dealing with dementia is difficult, and you deserve to feel just as supported as is your loved one with dementia.
The Bottom Line on Dealing with Dementia
Dealing with dementia is hard on the patient and the caregiver.
IoH+t doesn’t have to be.
As long as you follow our top 7 tips for what to do and not to do when caring for your loved one with dementia, you’ll be set up for success.
Learning to adjust and deal with dementia in someone you love can be challenging.
Practice patience and these tips for better understanding.