Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenge. If you are caring for them at home, you bear full responsibility for their well-being, and the precautions you take must increase as their needs progress. Here are some things to consider:
Take Appropriate Safety Precautions
- Install childproof locks on the windows and doors that lead outside.
- Hang bells on external doors to prevent an elopement.
- Be especially careful to lock any doors leading to your swimming pool. Put a lockable gate around the pool and cover it when not in use.
- Keep all medications in bottles with childproof lids and stored in a secured cabinet. You or a professional aid should be managing and distributing all medications.
- Keep sharp cooking knives and utensils secured. If you have guns in your home, keep them in a locked safe, with the ammunition stored separately.
- Be sure to provide supervision when personal grooming devices such as tweezers or razors are being used.
- Use a baby monitor to be aware of any unusual nighttime noises or behaviors.
Reduce Stress in the Environment
- Create and maintain routines. Routines provide consistency and structure, an important aspect in minimizing stress and anxiety. Wake up, bedtime, and meals should occur at roughly the same time each day.
- Try to incorporate some type of exercise in the daily routine. Improved health, reduced stress, and quality time together are just a few of the benefits of exercise. A simple walk around the block or a game of Wii bowling will do the trick.
- Consider what activities your loved one enjoyed earlier in life. This could include hobbies or even activities they performed in their professional life. Playing the piano, sweeping the floor, or stuffing envelopes can bring a sense of calm and purpose if it’s a familiar activity.
It’s vital that, as a caregiver, you take appropriate breaks to refuel and refresh yourself. If you have family or friends who are willing to help, take them up on it. Work together to create a schedule; this way, the full burden of caregiving does not fall on one person. Managing health care, finances, and day-to-day activities is overwhelming, so share the responsibilities.
Consider having a professional caregiver provide respite care on a regular basis. They can help prepare meals, provide escorts to doctor appointments, and aid in personal care. You might also consider using adult day services. These site-based programs provide structure and stimulation for your loved one while allowing you time to yourself.
Regardless of which resources you use, be sure to carve out personal time to manage your own life, pursue interests, and nurture other personal relationships. A healthy person makes a much more patient and capable caregiver.
About the Author
Iliana Spector is a health writer for Assisted Living Today, a leading source of information on a range of topics related to elder care and assisted living.