Currently in Australia there are 200,000 people providing unpaid care to a person with Dementia.
Many carers can experience negative effects to their emotional, psychological and physical health.
It’s important to make sure that as carers we are ready for what the uncertain future holds.
Here are 5 Tips to help you do that:
1. Educate Yourself
Have you heard the saying ‘Knowledge is Power’?
Not understanding why a person is behaving the way they are or knowing what the future holds can make you feel powerless.
The best way of understanding what your loved one is going through and being able to empathise is arming yourself with knowledge about the disease.
While caring for someone with Dementia can be frustrating at times, there are resources available that will help you understand and adapt to the role of carer better.
2. Making the house safe
Ensuring that your environment is safe is an extremely important part of caring for someone with Dementia.
That means making sure that the house is well lit and there are no obvious hazards. Accidents can be caused by anything from loose carpets to faulty kitchen appliances, uneven tiling or unsteady furniture.
Did you know that you can use your Home Care Package funds to make modifications to your home?
Here are some aids that could be helpful:
- Large Calendars and clocks to help a person adapt to time.
- Personal Alarms or Monitoring Systems (such as AbiBird).
- Hand rails in the bath, shower and toilet.
- Replacing long electrical cords on appliances with coiled or retractable cords.
- Making a list of contact names and numbers in large print by the telephone.
3. Plan for the Future
The only inevitable when caring for someone with Dementia is that things will change.
With this in mind, try to be flexible and not get too used to the way things are. A good way of preparing for an uncertain future could involve financial planning and identifying the right care services for your loved one’s evolving situation.
Be mindful of the need to continually reassess their care needs and health status.
4. Communication is Key
Communicating effectively with a person who has Dementia can become more challenging over time as the disease progresses.
There are a number of different communication approaches that have been developed to provide further trust and support with the person you are caring for.
Here are a few tips to consider when you’re communicating:
- Ask simple, answerable questions. Yes or No questions are usually better and making sure to only ask one question at a time.
- Be patient. Speak slowly and clearly and make sure you give your loved one the time they need to formulate their responses.
- Respond with encouragement and affection. Living with Dementia can be confusing and frustrating. It’s important to try and stay focused on supporting and reassuring your loved one’s mistakes. A great way of doing this is by offering verbal and physical expressions of support such as praise, smiling, touching and hugging.
- Remember their past. Talking about the good old days can often be a calming and affirming endeavour.
- When things get confusing… distract and redirect. If your loved one becomes frustrated or emotional, it can be a good idea to change the setting or subject.
5. Accept Help
Whether the person you are caring for is a member of your family, or you’re providing care professionally… it’s important to never be afraid to ask for support.
Support Groups, whether they are in your physical community or online can be immensely helpful.
They give caregivers an outlet for speaking to people that are better able to empathise and connect with their situation.
It’s also a great way of learning what has worked for others and discovering the different resources available.
What Support is Available?
Carer support groups:
Carer support groups can offer you a safe place to talk about your role as a carer. For information about Dementia carer groups in your area, call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
Dementia Australia is an incredible resource. This link will give you a list of current Supports available through their organisation:
Information Resources for Carers:
You can also contact the National Dementia Helpline by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or you can phone during business hours on 1800 100 500.