Every day, 250 people in Australia are diagnosed with dementia and this year, at least 459,000 Australians will live with the debilitating disease. But more than the effects of dementia, it’s the journey between the patient and his caregivers that’s most important, as this disease is more psychological and emotional than it is physical.
So what should you do when someone you love has dementia?
- Educate yourself about the disease.
Dementia is a progressive disease with no cure. So the next best thing that you can do is understand the disease to be able to give your loved one the best quality of life possible. Know the risk factors for dementia, learn about the progression of the disease, and find out what kind of support you can give to your loved one through this journey.
- Seek professional advice.
Since dementia is a serious health condition, it’s best to seek the advice of a professional in dealing with this disease. Although you can only treat the symptoms of dementia and prevent complications, it’s very important to work with a good healthcare team in making sure that your loved one still gets to live a normal life even when dealing with the disease.
- Establish routines.
As the disease progresses, your loved one might find it hard to perform activities that were once part of his daily life. This is when it’s important to establish fixed routines and schedules to help the patient avoid confusion and keep him on track with activities of daily living to give him as much independence as possible.
- Learn to be patient with your loved one.
Dementia can cause frustration, anxiety and even depression, especially when your loved one starts to feel that he has no control over his memory anymore. There will be times when he’d be irritable and impatient, which means that you have to be patient with your loved one to avoid arguments that could frustrate him even further. Instead of raising your voice, try to talk to your loved one in a comforting and loving manner.
- Keep your loved one safe.
Patients suffering from dementia are more prone to a lot of dangers, especially as the disease progresses. Being forgetful could put your loved one at risk for getting lost, so it’s very important to never let him go out of the house or drive alone. You should also avoid any hazards around your home and if possible, always have someone to accompany your loved one without taking away too much of his independence.
Caring for a person with dementia is no easy feat. While you’re dealing with the emotional burden of seeing your loved one’s memory deteriorate, you also need to make sure that he’s properly cared for and safe.
But if that means that you’re giving your loved one the chance to enjoy his life even with dementia, it’s worth all the effort. Remember that dementia should never stop you from living a great life with your loved one, so have fun and make the most of the time you have with him.