A common issue that arises for families caring for a loved one living with dementia is that they struggle to give them independence and a feeling of accomplishment. This can be a hard task to accomplish because family members who have dementia need assistance from time to time. At different stages of dementia, the care recipient will have different things that they will require assistance with. The key to ensuring that your loved one can feel accomplished and independent while having dementia is to find a balance between assisting and giving the family member space. The following advice will be primarily for those with early-stage dementia.
Sometimes, the best way to understand what your family member needs help with is to just ask them. Those living with dementia are aware of the challenges they face. Just ask them about what things frustrate them and how you can help. Moreover, this gives them a say in their care and a feeling of control over their lives.
Check for Safety
There will be instances when talking with your loved one may not result in them asking for any assistance. According to the Alzheimer Association, another way to find out what your family member needs help with is to consider if there is a safety risk if they try to do something alone. If there isn’t a danger for your loved one, be supportive, and only monitor their activities as much as necessary. However, if the situation can be potentially dangerous, talk it through with your family member. Help them come to the conclusion that asking for assistance with something isn’t bad. Hear what they have to say and don’t assume you know everything.
Don’t Shadow them too much
There’s no doubt that your loved one will need help. At gatherings, they may get lost in the crowd. However, the important thing is to not be overbearing. Provide a watchful eye, but respect their boundaries. This will go a long way to ensuring your loved one feels in control.
Look for Meaningful Activities to do
Participating in activities has a wide range of benefits for your loved one, from making life more fun to reducing wandering and agitation. Some activities to consider include gardening, listening to music, going for walks, and making dinner together. Doing these activities is another way for your family member to feel accomplished because they aren’t being limited by their dementia. They’re still capable of doing things, and that’s important.
As mentioned by the Alzheimer Association, when your loved one is doing something, assume that they can do the task. If you notice that they become frustrated, then try to identify why they’re frustrated before intervening. Additionally, it is important for you to be patient and supportive. The last thing you want to do is to make them feel as if they are a burden to you.
One of the trials of dementia for a lot people is coming to terms with what they’re beginning to be unable to do. You want to have open communication with your family member to give them a say in their care. By balancing independence and interdependence, you create the opportunity for them to receive the care they need, while also having time to accomplish things. Through this ongoing communication, you can give your loved one the feeling of challenging their circumstances.