About 12 years ago, as my father was being diagnosed with cancer, my mother started to have some memory problems. At first, I thought it was related to the stress of caring for my dad. He told me she would come into his room at night to check on him and even though he told her he was okay, she would come back often and ask him the same thing. He warned me that my mom may be showing signs of dementia.
At the time, I felt like taking care of a loved one with cancer would be the hardest caregiving experience I would ever have to do—but I was wrong. Taking care of my mother as her memory declines has proven to be much more difficult for me and my siblings.
Tips for Caring for a Family Member with Dementia
1) Stay positive. Setting a positive mood for any interaction with your family member—meaning body language, attitude, and tone of voice—will communicate your feelings more strongly than words. Use facial expressions, physical touch, and a pleasant tone of voice when interacting. Respond with affection and reassurance.
2) State your message clearly. Limit distractions when interacting (such as television or radio noise) with your family member, use simple sentences, and speak slowly. Instead of raising your voice to a high pitched tone, try a low pitched tone. Use proper names of people and places rather than pronouns such as “he,” “she,” or “there.” Asking yes or no questions also helps.
3) Accommodate the behavior; don’t try to change it. What we can change is our behavior or the environment. Ask your family member or loved one to take a walk with you to change the environment. Remember that all behavior is triggered by something.
And lastly, seek support from others. Know you are not alone. Severino Health Advisors is more than willing to help you and your family feel supported and understood, as well as help you navigate difficult situations with your loved one. There are several local support groups for those caring for loved ones in various stages of dementia.
Contact Severino Health Advisors today.