With dementia, there is an abundance of good advice from family, friends and healthcare professionals. To help filter good advice from bad guys, here are the top five tips on treating dementia.
1. You don’t need a registered nurse to provide home dementia care. Some RNs can provide excellent dementia care. In some cases, however, they may feel overqualified and lack the personality attributes required to do a great job. The experience, personality of a caregiver and, above all, training in specific behavioral tactics in the treatment of dementia will have a more significant impact on your loved one than medical training like RN.
2. Your loved one can never move to a residential community that will provide specialist memory care. Given the current situation with COVID-19, staying at home or returning home could be a safer scenario than living in a community with many other people. Many families choose to take care of their loved one at home until the end of their lives. We are seeing an increase in customers who wish to postpone moving to a residential community and increase the amount of care they receive at home. Although this is a short-term trend, it is certainly consistent with most of the advice provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other channels on how to stay safe in the current environment.
3. Your loved one may never tell you when they are ready to take care. Denial is a very powerful human emotion and a very common self-protection that we observe in the senior population we serve. The problem is that up to 80% of people with dementia have a complete lack of understanding of their conditions. The result is that they often resist getting the care they need to stay safe. Since dementia often degrades their reasoning ability, their condition tends to get worse rather than better. If you are worried, it is very likely that the time has come to introduce care so that your loved one accepts the help they need more promptly.
4. You can have a high quality of life if you have dementia. Each case of dementia we see has unique characteristics and therefore specific care needs. Even in its most severe phase, the loved one can still experience joy, comfort and purpose in life. The quality of life depends on the relationships they have with their loved ones, the community and healthcare professionals.
5. It may be possible to provide better assistance than what you are currently giving. One of the great challenges to providing excellent dementia care is to find caregivers that the dementia client can understand. This includes consideration of the impact of foreign accents because dementia impairs the ability to process speech. Through specialized training, good caregivers learn not to challenge the memory of your loved one, to discuss or try to use logic, since these approaches trigger agitation and produce anxiety.
Caregivers who specialize in the treatment of dementia treat your loved one as a companion and friend. They proactively plan activities that involve the loved one rather than being task-oriented or, worse still, waiting for the loved one to direct them and ask for help with physical needs.
Mitch Williams and Peggy Milne own and manage San Mateo County Home Helpers with offices in Half Moon Bay and San Mateo. Mitch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 532 3122.