It is a natural reaction from families and carers to want to do the best they can in supporting a loved one with dementia and it’s incredibly hard to find the right balance.
If you are caring for someone with dementia, remind yourself that
Everything situation is temporary
Don’t take it personally
If you are loving someone with dementia YOU are the expert, nobody else. Think about simplifying not complicating day to day activities.
Why is it that once we have a diagnosis we suddenly start running around finding out, what we think we should be putting in place, when actually nothing has changed about the person or situation except you have been told what you already knew - but it is now official.
Remember the person is still the person, dementia doesn’t change that, why would we think it does? What dementia does do is change everyone around it and I think this is down to our perception of what we think we should be doing that causes the most stress.
We often hear the phrases from families; ‘they need stimulation …’ and ‘they keep doing …’ as concerns are shared. Ask yourself, how are you overcompensating and running yourself into the ground because of your own expectations?
You see, in many cases. people’s abilities can be lost quite quickly and those lost skills are extremely hard to get back. Accepting what they can still do is really important and a moderate level of stimulation is much more beneficial than over stimulation which may cause increased confusion and agitation.
Trying achievable goals (in bite size pieces) will have a much more positive effect for everyone involved. Try not to be impatient or perplexed if an activity hasn’t been well received, it’s not a failure, try something else or don’t, it’s not about giving in or up it’s about surrendering to the situation.
‘They are always sleeping …’ is another concern that often comes up. Remember it’s not uncommon for a person with dementia to sleep sometimes up to 15 hours a day, but this sleep isn’t necessarily quality sleep although it may look like it to you!
Dementia brings exhaustion that those of us who have healthy brains will not experience. This will effect even relatively simple tasks of communication, eating and just trying to understand what is going on around them.
All that is really required from us is our patience, time and acceptance.
Ensure you offer acknowledgement, conversation and kindness. These are the things that are needed above all other ‘activities’.
And so a word of advice as 2020 gets underway, you don’t need to be constantly racking your brains and getting stressed about what ‘we think’ a person with dementia needs to be doing. A good routine, support for everyone involved, and sleep is an achievement in itself.
Good luck and let us know how you get on. Jane X