‘Dementia: Helping a Loved One’ by Tamar Krebs published in Great Health Guide (June 2017). Dementia is a condition where an elderly person is affected by injury or disease to the brain causing changes to personality, impaired memory and reasoning. This is an especially difficult time for family and Tamar shares some insightful tips on how to care for parents or loved-ones with dementia to make this journey a little easier.
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MINDSET: Dementia: Helping a Loved One
written by Tamar Krebs
Dementia is condition affecting the brain caused by either disease or injury. Typically, it is known to cause personality changes, impaired memory and reasoning.
During this time of our loved-one’s life, we have a wonderful opportunity to show gratitude and give back in a similar way they gave to us; unconditional love that celebrates who they are as they progress through their ageing journey. Even our elderly neighbor has a story…he or she has a dream, interests and hobbies.
When someone has dementia, they can become repetitive. They may portray signs of verbal agitation and can get confused easily. Someone with dementia often has a better quality in long term memory which can make them think that their child is their mother or spouse. A person with dementia can also make demands and experience mild to severe mood swings.
It can be difficult for the family to see their parent or loved-one journey with this condition, however the best way forward is to celebrate their loved one for who they are. You, as a child or friend can add value to your parent or loved-one’s life. Treating them with respect and dignity is what needs to be the focus and is what every person deserves. It’s important to remember that our parents and loved-ones, enhanced the quality of our life during childhood, now it’s our turn to find ways to enhance their lives. It’s now our time to give back.
Remember this … everyone wants to make a difference in the world. We wake up with a desire to change the world in a small way. Feeding, washing and toileting a person is the bare minimum in adding value to your loved ones’ life. We need to celebrate their abilities and interests and help them to cherish and live in the moment.
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HERE ARE A FEW TIPS FOR CARING FOR PARENTS OR LOVED ONES WITH DEMENTIA:
Respect and do not patronize.
Every adult has free choice. This is true even if the person has dementia.
Create cherished moments and live in these moments. Be mindful and present.
Do activities together that they may have stopped because of dementia. For example, if they enjoyed baking, ask them to help you crack the eggs, pour in the milk and flour.
Offer them manageable steps so that they can achieve tasks.
Set them up to win. If you expect them to be ready at a specific time, then arrive early and help them to get ready.
Be patient – accept that they have a cognitive condition and don’t get annoyed when they lose things.
Focus on their capacity and what they can do.
One of most beautiful things of dementia is that the long-term memory is preserved. So, make the most of this time. Sit down together and reminisce as you go through a photo album with your loved one. Rejoice in the beauty of their life and talk about their wonderful adventures.
Author of this article:
Tamar Krebs is the Founder and CEO of Group Homes Australia and has worked in the Aged Care industry for the past 18 years. Group Homes Australia is a new model of aged and dementia care which ensures that residents live in a home that looks, smells and feels like a home. Currently there are eight ‘Group Homes Australia’ homes across New South Wales. For more information visit their website.
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