With countless families touched by dementia all around the world, knowing how to offer support for a loved one with the condition is crucial. In this article, Evoke Neuroscience will cover strategies for providing emotional, practical, and informational support for someone with dementia. This can ultimately empower you to become that strong pillar that people with dementia can lean on.
Educate Yourself About Dementia
Understanding the multiple facets of dementia helps in providing empathetic and effective support. This understanding begins by learning about the disease itself – its symptoms, progression, and treatments.
Other than that, you can also learn about the emotional impact it has on people living with dementia and their families. You can learn how the person’s personality, behavior, and abilities may change over time from dementia, as well as effective communication techniques, and available resources, support groups, and professional services.
Create a Safe and Supportive Environment
Making adjustments at home can go a long way in ensuring the safety and independence of someone living with dementia. First, remove clutter or any hazards that can lead to falls or confusion. You may install grab bars, handrails, non-slip flooring, and adequate lighting to prevent accidents.
Also, you need to label frequently used items, rooms, and doors with clear instructions or images. Keep important objects like keys, wallets, and medications in consistent, easily-accessible locations. Lastly, set up a routine to make daily life for people with dementia predictable and structured.
Emphasize Good Communication
As dementia progresses, communication can become a challenge. For better communication, you should use a calm, respectful tone and approach the person from the front. You may speak slowly, clearly, and simply to someone with dementia, using short sentences.
Also, you must allow ample time for the person with dementia to process the given information and respond. On your part, you must always listen actively and attentively, avoiding interruptions. Be mindful of non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Lastly, validate the person’s feelings and emotions, even if you don’t fully understand their perspective.
Foster Engagement and Stimulation
Encourage social interaction, creativity, and cognitive stimulation for your loved one with dementia. You should plan regular activities that involve family, friends, or support groups, tailored to the person’s interests and abilities.
You may keep the person active with gentle physical exercises like walking, gardening, or dancing. Engage in activities that promote cognitive abilities, such as puzzles, word games, or arts and crafts. Lastly, you can play soothing music or explore relaxation techniques like massage to help reduce anxiety.
Empower Independence For The Person With Dementia
Support the person’s autonomy and decision-making abilities by encouraging him/her to participate in daily tasks like dressing, grooming, or meal preparation, even if they need some assistance. You may also simplify more complex tasks by breaking them down into manageable steps. Lastly, always praise their efforts and accomplishments, focusing on what they still can do rather than what they can’t.
Look after Yourself As Well
Finally, for Evoke Neuroscience, providing support to someone with dementia is a physically and emotionally demanding undertaking. So don’t forget to take care of your well-being by seeking assistance from family, friends, or professional caregivers. Also, you must allocate time for your own self-care: engage in hobbies, exercise, and social activities.