6 Effective Ideas for Caring for a Senior with Dementia

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Being the caregiver to a senior loved one without cognitive deficits may be quite different from caring for a senior with dementia. Cognitive deficits often change the dynamic between senior and caregiver, which can lead to a negative outcome. Fortunately, there are some tips for providing effective dementia care that may result in a more positive experience for both you and your loved one.

1. Explain All Procedures

Dementia may cause your loved one to be more suspicious of certain things you do for him or her. For example, your loved one may be afraid to bathe, get into the car, or have his or her hair brushed. Always explain all procedures to your loved one prior to performing them, because he or she may have forgotten what a bathtub or brush is. Gentle reminders and explanations can diminish fears and apprehension, resulting in a more positive outcome.

The cognitive challenges that accompany dementia often leave aging adults unable to manage everyday tasks, which puts their safety and health at risk. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care Tampa, FL, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

2. Offer Choices

People with dementia sometimes feel as though they have no control, which can lead to anxiety, combativeness, and agitation. When performing activities of daily living, allow your loved one to make choices. For example, your loved one can choose his or her clothing or whether to have coffee or tea. Offering even simple choices such as these may make your loved one feel as though he or she has more control.

3. Watch for Medication Side Effects

Many medications have side effects that can worsen cognition. For example, prescription pain relievers, certain blood pressure medications, psychotropic medications, and certain antihistamines can lead to confusion and forgetfulness. In a person who already has dementia, these side effects can be devastating. If you notice your loved one seems more disoriented or confused while taking medications, make an appointment with his or her physician to evaluate the medications’ side effects and determine if they’re exacerbating the symptoms of dementia.

4. Be Aware of Sundowning

Sundowning is a phenomenon characterized by disorientation, confusion, and agitation when the sun goes down. This condition is common in people with dementia or other cognitive deficits, so you should be aware that it may happen to your loved one. If your loved one exhibits an increase in confusion after dark, don’t leave him or her alone. Also, provide adequate lighting so pathways are illuminated, which reduces the risk for falls. In addition, make sure to keep all doors and windows locked and secured so your loved one is unable to wander away from the premises. 

Wandering, confusion, anger, and frustration are common in elderly people with dementia. Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Tampa seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

5. Provide Nutrient-Dense Foods

Dementia can sometimes cause poor appetite, which may result in nutritional deficiencies that make your loved one sick. If your loved one doesn’t have much of an appetite, make sure to prepare nutrient-dense foods for him or her. When your loved one does eat, adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals should be consumed. If you notice a severe decrease in appetite or you observe your loved one is losing weight, see his or her physician as soon as possible. While a poor appetite may be the result of dementia, it could also be a sign of another disorder.

6. Keep in Touch with the Physician

One of the most important aspects of providing effective dementia care is keeping in touch with your loved one’s physician. When your loved one sees a healthcare provider on a regular basis, he or she can be monitored for subtle changes in behavior that may indicate the dementia is progressing. If subtle changes are recognized and treated early on, progression can be slowed.

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenging task for anyone. The responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but help is available. Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Tampa senior home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help. To learn about our high-quality in-home care services, give us a call at ‭(813) 488-5804‬ today.

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