The possibility of dementia or a complex form of cognitive decline involving memory loss and the decline of other thinking skills can certainly put things into perspective. When an elderly loved one begins to display symptoms of dementia, it can be an extremely frightening experience. However, always keep in mind that the signs and symptoms of dementia do not immediately mean your loved one is no longer present.
While little can prepare you and your loved ones for such a diagnosis, there are support systems designed to help you and your elderly loved one through this journey, easing the anxiety and worry that comes with dementia.
In the United Arab Emirates, the prevalence of the aging population means that cases of dementia will continue to remain on the rise, meaning elderly care in Dubai and in the rest of the emirates remains a high priority.
If you currently know an elderly loved one who was recently diagnosed with dementia or is already going through this difficult journey, here are some practical tips to ensure they get the proper support and love they need.
1. Educate yourself on Dementia
Understanding exactly how Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia affect a person’s brain and body can better prepare you to care for an elderly loved one going through the process.
Having a better grasp of the disease present will enable you to anticipate potential symptoms, ensuring the better management of symptoms as they emerge. Knowing more about dementia upon diagnosis means you can make positive changes in and around the house for your elderly loved one to improve their comfort and security.
Another great source of information are support groups, friends and other family members. Having a core team that can provide invaluable tips or simply to lend an ear can help ease your frustrations, depression and stress as the family caregiver.
2. Keep loved ones physically and mentally active
Participate with your loved one in their favorite activities. Even simple everyday tasks can stimulate a sense of achievement during this difficult time.
By taking time out of the day to encourage them to participate in their favorite activities, such as going for a walk, helping them read the newspaper, or looking after the family pet, you can help your loved one focus on the positive, creating reassurance that dementia does not limit their ability to enjoy their favorite activities and continue living life.
Providing a structure of carefully considered daily tasks or activities creates plenty of opportunities for those living with dementia to continue focusing on the positive, and enables them to see that life with dementia can still be an enjoyable experience.
3. Maintain good health through nutrition
Those living with dementia sometimes struggle with poor appetite or have lost the desire to eat.
Mealtimes are still an important part for any individual with dementia so it can be helpful to make some minor modifications that can encourage a dementia patient to enjoy eating again. Consider changing the aesthetics of the dining environment to make your elderly loved one more comfortable around the dinner table.
Building confidence at mealtimes can be as simple as employing warm and inviting colors that stimulate the appetite. Music has also been known to encourage eating. Talk to your local general practitioner or a nutritionist who can assist in creating nutritionally balanced meals that can be enjoyed by your loved one living with dementia.
4. Use support services
It’s always best to think ahead into the future when a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia. While you may be the primary family caregiver, remember that you need support, too. Knowing what services are available to you and your family ensures you can give the best care for your loved one diagnosed with dementia.
Here in the UAE, we provide a variety of home nursing services that can coordinate with you to render assistance and care for your loved one’s unique healthcare needs. Besides home nursing services, home care assistance is available to provide support in terms of meal prep, laundry services, and respite care.
If, in the future, further experienced care is needed, other sources of support include residential care and sheltered housing.
5. Be present in the moment
A diagnosis of dementia does not equate to a death sentence. It can be devastating news to hear, but remember that your loved one is more than the disease. With that said, it’s important to remember that significant changes will take place.
It’s important to focus on your loved one in their current state. They will never be who they once were, and it can be hard to watch your loved one change as their condition steadily worsens over time, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be loved for who they are in the present. Be patient with the experience; more so, with your loved one.
Good communication is key to fostering a quality relationship with someone living with dementia. Ask simple, easy-to-answer questions and respond with affection and reassurance. Be patient and in the moment, listen with your ears, eyes, and heart.
If handled properly with full knowledge, love, and compassion, dementia can be a manageable condition. A little understanding goes a long way in caring for an elderly loved one with this debilitating condition.
Though the caregiving journey can be difficult, it can also be rewarding. Be accommodating with respect and support, and you can help your loved one battling dementia continue to live a life of dignity. If you’re looking for further advice or support, please contact our team for assistance.