Dementia is not one specific disease, but a collection of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- A change in personality
- Withdrawal and apathy
- The loss of ability to perform normal everyday tasks
Caring for someone with Dementia can be a challenging task for many reasons.
Communication especially, can prove difficult. Some issues they face may include:
- Problems finding the right words to say what they mean.
- Talking without making much sense.
- Lose of reading and writing skills
- Difficulty expressing their emotions
If you are finding it difficult to communicate, try being extra patient and allow them plenty of time to respond and use short easy to understand sentences with a calm and gentle voice. You can also help their self esteem and dignity by not rolling your eyes or sighing when you become frustrated as negative body language can still be recognised by a Dementia sufferer. Try using touch and warm affectionate language to help keep the sufferer at ease.
In the home environment, safety and familiarity is important. The sufferer should feel comfortable and be able to find their way around. Here is a few things you can try to make life easier include:
- Use nightlights in hallways
- Remove any trip hazards such as rugs with frayed edges
- Use column heaters instead of bar heaters which can be knocked over.
- Use thermostat controls for hot water systems so the sufferer can't be burnt.
- List of contact names and emergency contacts in large print that’s easy to read.
Behavioural changes can prove distressing for both the carer and the sufferer. These changes can vary widely and often be unpredictable. This page on Dementia.org.au provides detailed information on the different types of behaviours that you could expect, how to understand them and how you may be able to manage them.
An option that may be worth considering to make your life easier is to involve those around you in supporting your care efforts. You could ask the neighbours to keep an eye out when your not around or get relatives to assist with the day to day tasks. You can also look at respite care options so you can take a break. After all it is important to look after yourself as well.
Try these contacts below to find out what your respite options are:
Dementia Australia - Helpline 1800 100 500, dementia.org.au
My Aged Care - 1800 200 422, myagedcare.gov.au
The Carer Gateway - 1800 422 737, carergateway.gov.au
Emergency Respite Accommodation - 1800 059 059
Veteran’s Home Care Assessment Agency Metropolitan - 1300 550 450 Regional: 1800 555 254
If you are struggling in your role as a carer, there are support groups available where you can meet with others in a similar position to talk to and receive information and education on caring for a Dementia sufferer. You can contact the National Dementia helpline to find the nearest support group.
For further resources, you can find a comprehensive list of help sheets here that covers all aspects of dealing with Dementia.
Accuro Home Care has been providing care for Dementia sufferers and respite for their carers for many years and understands the unique requirements that come with providing this care.