Key Tips for Supporting A Loved One with Dementia

Are you caring for a loved one with dementia? One of the most challenging aspects of witnessing a loved one struggle with dementia may be the sadness and confusion an individual experiences, often exhibited through angry outbursts and belligerence. Let’s go over some tips that can help you care for your loved one with dementia.

Advice for Supporting a Loved One with Dementia

First you need to remember that the behavior that you see is likely the symptoms of your loved one’s illness.  The deterioration of brain cells may be the scientific cause of any behavioral changes in your loved one and there is probably nothing you can do to change that.  Although this may be quite frustrating for you, imagine how frustrating it is for your loved one.  Instead of becoming upset yourself, the best thing you can do is remain calm and attempt to provide comfort.  Here are some techniques to consider:

  1. Keep things simple. A person experiencing dementia can often be overwhelmed by the confusion of the situation. Yet at the same time, it may be a natural human tendency to jump in and try to explain in an effort to help. With a person suffering from dementia, however, all of these words, which may be difficult to comprehend, can lead to further agitation. Breaking things down into the simplest of tasks may be the best support you can offer.
  2. Assist your loved one with establishing a routine. Similar to keeping things simple, establishing a consistent daily routine can provide a feeling of safety to someone suffering with dementia.  A morning routine, regular mealtimes and a daily walk may provide structure to your loved one’s day.  You can assist them in remembering a routine by creating a written schedule that can hang on the wall or setting timers.   When offering these supportive measures,  it is important to discuss them in a way that allows your loved one to maintain a sense of dignity, rather than speaking to them in a paternalistic or demeaning way.
  3. Avoid arguing and do your best to remain calm. As previously mentioned, the disease process can be responsible for making your loved one argumentative. Just as there may be a natural tendency to over explain, it can also be completely human to mirror anger with anger. If you begin to experience feelings of anger or irritation while caring for your loved one, the best thing you can do may be to step outside for a moment and catch your breath, or at least pause and count to five. This can allow you time to reset, reminding yourself that the symptoms your loved one may be exhibiting are no different than people experiencing high blood pressure or high blood sugar from their illness.  It may simply be the symptom of a disease.

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a stressful experience. The disease will progress and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Some days will be worse than others, for both of you.  Don’t beat up on yourself.  Remember that just being there and providing a loving touch, can be the greatest source of support and comfort that you can give.

Contact The Law Offices of Clifford M. Cohen Today!

For more ways you can help support your loved one with dementia, please call the Law Offices of Clifford M. Cohen at (202) 895-2799 to schedule a time to meet. The Law Offices of Clifford M. Cohen is an estate planning law firm in Washington DC.