Over 50 million people around the world have dementia, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year. Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of dementia, and is responsible for about 60% to 70% of cases.
While taking care of someone with dementia can be a rewarding job, it can also be an overwhelmingly challenging situation.
Many family member nursing care providers find that as the disease progresses, it becomes harder to remember that their loved one is still here. This is due to their becoming frustrated with their loved one’s inability to communicate their thoughts, and their failure to recognize faces and names. Over time, the disease takes away the patient’s independence, so their family members become entirely responsible for them.
Despite these challenges, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be incredibly fulfilling. Here are six things to keep in mind if you have a loved one with dementia.
- Keep educating yourself
From the moment you learn of the diagnosis, you should commit yourself to learning as much as possible about the progression of dementia. By studying the disease, reading other nursing care providers’ accounts, and continually educating yourself, you will become better able to understand and empathize more with your loved one.
Remember that your loved one can remember emotions even after they forget the actual event that caused those feelings. Your words and actions matter!
- Be realistic in your expectations of yourself and your loved one.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic expectations as your loved one struggles with Alzheimer’s.
To do this, develop specific schedules and routines. As the disease progresses, it becomes more important to have set methods and plans to help eliminate confusion and frustration for your loved one.
- Remember health and nutrition.
Just like in all stages of life, never underestimate the power of health and good nutrition. As a nursing care provider, limit the number of refined sugars sources and increase the number of vegetables in your loved one’s diet as this can help manage behavioral as well as health issues.
Additionally, ensure that you always have an updated list of medications and dosages. This means that everyone will know when the next dose of medication is due, and you will be able to accurately share any medical information with doctors or other nursing care providers.
- Treat them as your loved one.
The most important thing to remember is that your loved one is more than his/her disease. The disease is responsible for their mood and personality changes, so always remind yourself of who they were before the diagnosis.
That being said, you can’t try to change your loved one back into who they were before. Instead, grieve for your loss and then open yourself up to love them in the now.
- Don’t give up on fun.
Despite everything, your loved one can most certainly still have fun. You can take them to local museums, parks, bookstores, and the zoo (to name a few places)!
While you are on your outings, utilize every method of communication. When verbal expression is no longer possible, art, music and reading are all interesting ways to connect with your loved one.
Remember to look after yourself
While it is crucial that you care for and look after your loved one, you can’t do that at the cost of your own well-being. Be frank with yourself about your own emotional and physical limitations, and do what is necessary to avoid nursing care provider burnout. Schedule in a few minutes to yourself every day, and join a local or online nursing care provider support group.
As a nursing care provider, it can often be easy to forget that you also need support, lean on other members of the family and loved ones whenever you need someone for yourself.
Finally, when it all feels too much, take a deep breath and remember that you are doing a great job. If things get too difficult, look into elderly care in Dubai.
Remember that a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis does not equal a death sentence for your loved one. Plenty of people with the disease live more than 20 years following a diagnosis. So, remember these things, and take advantage of the time you have left with your loved one.
Ibrahim Khader founded Angels of Medical Care in 2010. The name “Angels” was chosen because of his belief that nurses are angels of healing and care with the blessings of the creator. The company has flourished and is now one of the best, most renowned home care companies in Dubai.