Deciding how to care for a parent or spouse living with dementia is difficult. You want your loved one to get the support he or she needs and to be comfortable in his/her surroundings. If you have a family member with dementia you may be debating whether home is the best environment, especially if the person lives alone. Currently there is no cure for dementia, but environment and lifestyle play an important role in delaying its progression and maximizing quality of life. It’s important to look at both the needs of your loved one and his/her caregiving situation to truly understand whether remaining at home with support makes the best sense.
Dementia is a progressive condition
Dementia is a progressive condition, and the needs of the person will change over time. Your parent or spouse with dementia may experience forgetfulness, challenges completing tasks, and changes in their senses. These changes can be difficult to navigate and predicting the changes a person with dementia might experience in the future is nearly impossible. Creating an adaptive environment to accommodate these changes can empower a person to live independently but additional support may become needed over time, especially if the person lives alone.
Communication styles change
Dementia is a shift in the way a person experiences the world. This journey is unique for each person. People living with dementia may communicate their needs in ways that their caregivers cannot understand. It can be frustrating for caregivers if they are unable to communicate effectively with their loved one living with dementia. This frustration can lead to feelings of helplessness and burnout. It is important to recognize that how a person behaves is a reflection of their needs. As a caregiver, seeing behaviors as a form of communication and an expression of an unmet needs may help enhance the relationship and give new information on what the individual needs.
Care can be an around-the-clock job
When a person is living with dementia their brain is working on overdrive constantly. Completing simple tasks like following a recipe or paying the bills can become exhausting. Although staying active and engaged are important ways to delay the progression of the disease, your loved one will likely need some additional support in the future. When physically demanding tasks like bathing or getting dressed become difficult, it may be appropriate to hire a care professional for additional support. In-home care is a great option for loved ones who want to stay in their home but need help with just a few tasks one or two times a week. If, over timem additional support is needed In-home care professionals are available up to 24 hours a day.
If you are concerned that your loved one’s environment is not conducive to his/her changing needs, looking for an environment that is specifically designed for persons experiencing dementia may be the best option. Assisted living communities with dementia care are uniquely designed with changing needs in mind. From staff education to programming these environments are tailored to optimize a person’s well-being despite living with dementia. Programs typically include art, music, gardening and visits from children and pets.
Caring for someone who is living with dementia can be difficult both physically and emotionally. Finding the type of support that is best for you and your loved one is crucial to his/her well-being. It is important to recognize that you are not alone in this journey. Reaching out for support is the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved one. The good news is you have options for support at your fingertips. If you are looking for options at home you can explore in-home care. Or you can find a memory care community. You can gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing your loved one has the support he or she needs to live well with dementia.