Dementia affects an estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages. A whopping 5.5 million are over 65 years old.
The concept of your aging parents or spouse getting Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is scary and definitely something you want to plan for. If that’s your case, then you may be wondering how you can continue to provide care to them.
Thankfully, there are a variety of resources you can use in your dementia care plan. The key is to find methods that will keep your loved one’s dignity intact.
Living with parts of your memory diminished is frustrating as is. Throwing their disabilities in their face with over-done in-home care only makes things worse.
In this guide, we’ll cover some of the ways you can implement a dementia care plan that’s dignified.
First, let’s review why maintaining the dignity of your loved one is so important.
Why Your Loved One’s Dignity Matters
There’s nothing easy about growing older, especially when many of your friends and/or spouse pass away. If you think of an elderly person, you may imagine someone who’s lonely, vulnerable and in pain.
When your health is failing you, it can be difficult to maintain your dignity. Dementia can take a toll on your life and limit your freedom.
This disease is very challenging for everyone who develops it. Daily dementia episodes can be embarrassing and depressing – if not downright dangerous.
For this reason, you’ll find soft-spoken loved ones may have angry outbursts due to their frustrations with their condition. It’s not easy forgetting familiar faces and it can be heartbreaking for everyone.
Since there’s no cure for this disease, your goal is to help your loved one by providing them with a proper dementia care plan.
Let’s get into what should be included in your dementia care plan.
Don’t Condescend Your Loved One
You have to keep in mind that your aging loved one is an adult, even though they may need extra care and attention like a child. This makes condescension a major issue in these situations.
Whether you’re the caregiver or you hire someone to provide care, it’s important that condescension is left out of the equation. This can be very damaging to the psyche of your loved one.
One way around this is to use other names for diapers and toilets. For instance, you can call the adult diapers underwear and use the bathroom instead of the potty. If your loved one has to wear a bib while eating, call it an apron.
It’s also essential not to have a parental tone when speaking. Talk like you would to a parent/spouse who doesn’t have dementia.
Ask Leading Questions to Jog Memory
Oftentimes, seniors with dementia will forget the name of someone they know or lose their train of thought while telling a story. Rather than focusing on their forgetfulness, ask leading questions.
This may help to get them back on track to remember what they were saying. Allowing them to remember on their own is better than filling in the blanks for them all the time. This will only make them feel inadequate.
For instance, you can say something like “Dad, this is Rebecca, David’s wife. You met her last year at the Christmas party.”
Do this for everyone who arrives to help jog their memory in advance.
Treat Your Loved One Like Normal
No one likes feeling like an outcast or problem. Make sure your loved one gets treated with respect and as though nothing is wrong. Just because your loved one has dementia, it doesn’t mean they’ve lost all their senses and feelings.
A lot of the time, dementia patients will feel odd about being around friends and family because they treat them differently. If you’re going to invite people over to see your loved one, make sure to tell them to treat them like normal.
It’s also essential not to leave your loved one out of gatherings and outings because of their condition. They too have the desire to be outgoing.
Engage in Therapeutic White Lies
Telling lies isn’t a good thing, but it can help when you’re dealing with dementia patients.
Now, we’re not talking about devious lies, but white ones. These should be therapeutic in nature, helping your loved one get through pain, anxiety, and confusion.
For instance, say your loved one wants to drive to the store, but you’re not comfortable with them doing so. Rather than saying you don’t think it’s safe for them to drive, you can say that your car needs repair or that you can’t find the keys.
Or you can offer to drive to the store since you had to go there anyway.
Taking Your Loved One Out
It’s important that your loved one gets regular outings so they can feel as normal as possible.
However, it’s essential to plan these trips thoroughly. For instance, how far away is the destination and will it be tolerable and pleasant for everyone?
What about the time of day? Consider this when determining when your loved one feels in the best spirits. When choosing a setting, keep in mind how your loved one reacts to various conditions.
Does he or she enjoy being around children, going to the park or eating out at restaurants? If your loved one behaves negatively around kids with ill-behavior, then you should avoid these settings.
Lastly, the food choice should be easy to cut, eat and digest.
Finding Help with Your Dementia Care Plan
At the end of the day, you may not be the one to care for your loved one full time. For this reason, you should have a backup plan that involves getting professional help.
But rather than having a “babysitter” to watch your loved one throughout the day, you can move them into a senior community with assisted living. Of course, this community should have experience in dementia conditions
At Seasons Memory Care, we offer a place for seniors to live comfortably and with dignity. Contact us today to learn more about our facilities and to request a tour.