It’s estimated that there are currently around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. This number is set to rise to over 1 million by 2025.
Dementia is one of the biggest challenges faced by carers. It can be both rewarding and demanding and often requires a great deal of patience.
If you’re caring for someone with dementia, it’s important to:
Be patient and understanding
As every carer will know, this is easier said than done. When you’re tired and drained from being a carer, patience won’t always come along easily. There will be good and bad days. This is normal; accept that there are days when your patience will be tested, and there will be days when you feel better placed to cope. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re a bit abrupt or feel that you could have handled a situation better. It’s impossible to be perfect always, especially when your energy and patience are being tested.
That said, try to be as understanding as possible when your loved one repeats things or asks the same questions repeatedly. Remember, it’s not their fault, and they won’t be able to retain information. Dementia is a disease of the brain. If you
Be encouraging and positive
When I was a carer for my mum, she used to tell me she felt useless and couldn’t do anything for herself. She knew she had become forgetful and hated relying on others for help and support. She began to lose her confidence. It’s easy to see why. She used to be an organised person who ran her own diary and managed her appointments and daily schedule. She went from managing her lifestyle and having her routine to having to rely on me to do all of this for her. She used to ring me up and ask me if she was meant to be anywhere or do anything. You can understand how this had dented her confidence. So try to be positive and focus on what your loved one can do. Praise them for what they are capable of doing and never put them down or try to take over completely.
Help them to stay active and engaged
I noticed my mum was in better spirits and mentally sharper when she was around other people or had something active to do, even if it was just something simple like going for a walk. Don’t let your loved one just sit around all day – if they are mobile and can be active, then encourage them to take a walk or go to the shops with them.
Promote their independence
This isn’t always easy as the person with dementia will come to rely more on you for help and support as their condition deteriorates, but encourage them to do what they can for themselves.
Create a safe and supportive environment
A person with dementia may have their sight affected by the condition, as the brain has to process what we see. So even if their eyesight is fine, they may be more prone to tripping over objects. Move coffee tables and general clutter out of their rooms and ensure they have a clear space to walk around their home freely.
However, you do need to accept that there will come a time when the person won’t be able to be left on their own. They will eventually require 24-hour care, so what qualifies as a safe environment now may not be in future. Start talking and thinking about future care needs so that you can plan ahead and be prepared when your loved one needs ongoing care.