One of the severest illnesses humanity is facing, dementia takes its toll not just on the patient, but on his family and friends as well. Dementia care can be difficult, challenging, and even depressing at some points, which is why everyone involved needs a helping hand. To avoid the risk of dementia care becoming overwhelming and cumbersome here is a short guide to the crucial things you need to know about this type of affliction and how to care for the loved ones who suffer from it.
Prepare for Dementia Care
The first thing the caregiver needs to understand is that there is no time to waste. Dementia, in all its forms, is a disease of the mind, who takes a heavy psychological toll on the persons involved. When you first find out about a loved one’s situation, you will feel a range of emotions surging through you.
You will, undoubtedly feel sad, powerless, and even scared of the changes that person is going to go through. As onerous as it sounds, you need to be strong. Try to adjust to the new reality you’re faced with as soon as possible, as there is no time to waste. If need be, reach out for professional help. Have a few therapy sessions and discuss your feelings. They will help you cope and, consequently do a marvelous job at making the patient’s life as comfortable as possible.
An early start will give everyone time to make the transition from the life they used to know to the new one. There are a few questions you need to ask yourself, as a way of preparing everything.
- When the patient is no longer able, who will make all the important decisions in his stead?
This question is, probably, one of the hardest to tackle. Nonetheless, it’s important to address it first, while the patient is still lucid and can tell you themselves what they want. Sit them down in a homely and comfortable environment and calmly explain that you must have this conversation.
Tell him or her that, by putting pen to paper regarding their wishes you are making sure they’re going to be respected by all the members of the family. Apart from having this talk and write down everything the patient wants to be done after he is no longer able himself, you will need to see a lawyer. As far as finances and healthcare go, you need power of attorney to be able to take care of your loved on in the last stages of the illness.
If the patient is no longer lucid enough to go through this, you have to apply for conservatorship or guardianship.
- Who will provide the dementia care?
More often than not, when such a diagnosis is set, people tend to believe the closest member of the family will take care of the patient. They often look towards the spouse or life partner and the children. However, that is not always a clever idea. Your plans might not work.
In the first stages of the illness, the patient is still lucid and stable enough to care for himself, which means you only have to supervise him. However, when dementia sets in fully, they cannot be left alone anymore. Dementia patients typically become dangerous to themselves, to the people around them, and to their environment. They cannot be alone in a house, as they might hurt themselves, start fires, or hurt others.
Building on this, you must take into consideration the fact that the other members of the family have jobs, children, and health issues of their own, which means they cannot be there 24/7 for the patient. Or during the day. Think about hiring professional help, such as a specialist who can provide dementia care around the clock at decent fees.
- Where will your loved one live?
When the illness advances, and the elderly patient starts feeling worse and losing touch with reality, you will, most likely, find out that his own home might not be suited for him anymore. In case his house is difficult to reach because he lives in a remote part of town or on a farm, for example, if it’s a big house with stairs, a basement, and an attic, if he lives in an apartment in the middle of the city from where he could easily get into the street, consider moving him. Evidently, those types of lodgings are not safe anymore.
This being said you have two options to fix this problem and start making a plan.
- You can bring in your loved one to live with you if that is possible. Think about your own house from an objective point of view and how easy it would be for a sick person to live there.
- Comfortably install the patient in a facility that offers assisted living and dementia care. This idea is exactly what we had in mind when we created Texas Love and Care. To thoroughly research and evaluate senior care centers, senior living arrangements, senior apartments, as well as dementia care centers and nursing homes, so that you don’t have to. We can help you make the best possible choice for your loved one and ensure that he or she is happy and perfectly taken care of.
Communication Tips and Tricks Concerning Dementia Care
When the person suffering from this illness who is in you care advances to the last stages, apart from the care you offer, communication is crucial. Here are some tips you can use to make sure everything is done correctly.
- When addressing the person, always use his or her name.
- Speak as slowly as you can, because they might have a hard time processing all the information you are trying to send their way.
- When asking them a question, make it a simple one, that they can answer with ‘yes’ or no. Also, formulate closed questions, not the kind that asks for an open and descriptive answer. Allow us to give you an example.
A good way of asking a question is: ‘Would you like to eat fried chicken for dinner?’ The question is simple, and the answer can then be ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ A bad example is ‘What would you like to eat for dinner?’ Although your intentions are excellent, the patient might not be able to answer this question and feel confused.
- If the person is scared or in doubt of your identity, calmly introduce yourself as many times as needed. Also, tell them who you are in relation to them. For example: “I am Anna Wilson, your daughter.’
- If the patient appears not to understand what you are saying, don’t repeat the same thing over and over again. Try to convey the same message, but using different wording, as plainly as possible.
- If the person who needs dementia care from you asks a question and you know the answer will upset him, it is alright not to tell them the entire truth. Don’t worry about ethics in this situation, as this does not mean you are lying. You’re simply avoiding to tell them something that will distress them even more than they already are.
For example, he might ask you the following: ‘Where is my wife?’ Instead of telling him she died five years ago, simply say ‘She is not here right now.’ If he insists, distract him in a way or another. Telling this type of truth to a dementia patient is extremely upsetting, and when you need to tell them this truth over and over again, it will do them no good.
Caring for Someone with Dementia. Things You Mustn’t Do
- Never use pronouns, such as ‘she’, ‘he’, them’, etc. Always use a person or animal’s name.
- Do not get angry if the individual cannot remember something or is acting strangely. Take a short break instead.
- Do not talk in long sentences or paragraphs. Use small bits of information at a time.
- Never speak about a dementia patient as if he weren’t there if they happen to be in the room. Remember that, even if they don’t seem to understand as much as they used to, they have feelings.
- Never use challenging words or slang.
- Do not use irony, sarcasm or other types of jokes they might not get and feel hurt.
- Don’t patronize them and don’t use baby talk. They are not children, and they know it.
Consider going through training to help you cope with the communication part as well as with other activities.
Dementia Care Facilities in Texas
As far as Texas is concerned, here at Texas Love and Care, we strive to find the best facilities where you can rest assured your loved one will be very well taken care of. Here are just some of them.
- Belmont Village Turtle Creek – apart from the excellent dementia care program they have, they also offer easy access to retail centers, high-end dining, churches and synagogues.
- Monticello West – it’s situated only 3.6 miles from Dallas, in the Highland Park neighborhood.
- Parsons House Preston Hollow provides community care and individual apartments for every patient.
- Brookdale White Rock – it’s situated in the beautiful historical side of the town known as Lake Highlands.
#2. Fort Worth
- The Stayton at Museum Way – this is a private dementia care facility with 30 apartments that specializes in severe cases
- Brookdale Tangled Oaks – it’s an enclosed community that sits on five splendid acres.
- Colonial Gardens – they have two wooded acres and 40 private rooms, as well as an ‘open’ kitchen.
- Riverside Inn at Fossil Creek – situated at 8 miles from Fort Worth, the Riverside Inna specializes in Alzheimer’s and other dementia care programs.
- The Cottages at Chapel Creek – they offer professional assistance 24/7 for your loved ones.
- Mustang Creek Estates Frisco – They have organized an actual ‘neighborhood’ with six individual houses that can accommodate 14 or 16 people. They also have two houses specialized in memory care.
- Autumn Leaves of Carrollton – it’s a family owned and operated center for dementia care, based on recent research.
- Silverado Plano – They have been leaders in their care segment for over 20 years, thanks to the fact that they focus on offering all their residents the best lives they can possibly have.
Probably the most difficult part of providing a loved one with dementia care is watching them turn to behaviors you would have never thought they could do. This drastic change is the reason why you need to gather all the information you can about this condition and make the best choices possible. Texas Love and Care is here to support you through the entire process, so don’t hesitate to turn to us whenever the need strikes.