One of the major leading causes of death in the United States, dementia can change a person’s entire life in a matter of years. Seniors living with dementia may steadily lose more than the ability to recall information — slowly but surely, dementia may cause them to struggle with eating, speaking, and caring for themselves independently. It can be difficult to watch your loved one battle this silent killer, as there is currently no known cure and minimal treatment available for dementia. Fortunately, there are ways you can support your loved one during this difficult part of their life.
Memory care takes time, patience, and empathy; after watching your family member live an independent life for many years, it may be frustrating or even nerve-wracking to see them struggle with basic tasks like dressing themselves or answering a question. Dementia affects everyone differently, and it will take time to get a clear idea of what the disease is impacting the most in your loved one. When you’re struggling to connect with this person or find yourself overwhelmed with frustration or grief, remember that this is by no means their choice. This is the same person you’ve known and loved all along, and they need you now more than ever.
Maintain a Routine
As dementia is a thief of memory and proper brain function, seniors with dementia may be frequently confused or anxious about what to do during the day — by helping them establish and regularly stick to a routine, you can help them find a sense of normalcy. If possible, help your loved one wake up, nap, and go to bed at the same time every day, and encourage them to perform daily tasks like brushing their teeth and taking medicine in the same order each time. If you find that you need extra assistance to help your loved one maintain a routine, you could always look to investing in additional home care services, or even getting them a place at an assisted living facility such as chelseaseniorliving.com/locations/the-chelsea-at-fair-lawn/ where you know their needs will be met and tailored memory care can be provided by experts.
Help Them Enjoy Life
Living with dementia does not mean sacrificing things that bring joy, so it’s important to help them partake in their favorite hobbies and pastimes. Remind them of the things they have loved throughout their life by cooking together, encouraging them to paint, read, or draw, going for walks in their favorite places, and listening to their favorite music and stories. No matter what it is they like, engaging in activities they associate with fun and happiness works wonders against the depression and malaise often associated with dementia. You may even be surprised by the effect — a dementia patient who struggles to speak may find it effortless to sing along with their favorite song.
If your loved one is battling dementia, let them know you care by signing up and joining in the fight. Show them kindness and patience along the way, do your best to help them preserve the memories and motor skills they have, and above all, remind them that life is joyous and still very much worth living. If possible, speak with your loved one’s regular physician or a dementia specialist to learn more about specific things you can do to support your family member.