While many people in the early stages of dementia choose to remain in the comfort of a familiar home, their unique care needs can be a challenge to meet. If you’re taking care of a loved one with dementia, you know that sometimes it can be an overwhelming experience and navigating your own life at the same time can be difficult.
The good news is you don’t have to face this challenge alone! Help is not only available, but a professional in-home caregiver can also significantly improve the quality of life of a person with dementia, as well as of those caring for them. Here are a few things they bring to the table.
Dementia is a complex disease and can make you find yourself in situations that you haven’t experienced before and therefore may struggle to navigate. Having the support of a professional caregiver can help you learn to better cope with such situations.
Caregivers are trained in dementia care and are experienced. Common aspects of dementia care training include methods for staying engaged with a person with dementia, managing often unpredictable behaviors through validation and redirection, communicating effectively, and breaking down activities into smaller steps that are easier to manage. Safety training is also a major part of professional caregivers’ initial and ongoing education since people with dementia may be prone to wandering and other risky behaviors.
In-home caregivers therefore get to know your loved one, what upsets them, what comforts them, and many other preferences to better support them at home. They know how to interact in a positive and effective manner to keep your loved one as calm and comfortable as possible.
A professional caregiver can help set daily routines that people with dementia highly benefit from. A daily routine is especially important, as it helps people with dementia navigate their world and have a sense of stability in it. As they will eventually lose their ability to do most everyday tasks, continuing to do these for as long as possible is crucial. Routines are stored in long-term memory and dementia usually affects short-term memory first, so routines often remain accessible even into the middle stages of the disease. Professional caregivers are trained to facilitate daily activities, including chores and personal care tasks, at the appropriate times and to provide assistance to your loved one as needed.
Knowledge of the clinical aspects of dementia allows in-home caregivers to enrich the lives of people with dementia with social interaction and activities. As they understand the disease, they know how to create a positive environment for the person with dementia by learning about their interests and coming up with ways of how they can still engage in these meaningful hobbies, as well as other activities that the person may find joyful. For instance, if the person with dementia enjoyed going for big walks in the local park, a professional caregiver can ensure they can still safely do that.
Dementias tend to get worse with time, and people living with the condition are also at risk for developing depression or become socially isolated. Professional caregivers understand how the disease progresses, and can closely monitor its symptoms and provide frequent communication to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions. They can also help you better understand the disease and your loved one’s behavior, as well as keep you updated on their wellbeing.
Proper nutrition is always important to keep the body strong and healthy. For a person with dementia, eating and drinking regularly may become difficult, while a loss of appetite and dehydration also become a concern. As poor nutrition may increase behavioral symptoms and cause weight loss, making sure they have a regulated and healthy diet is extremely important. A professional caregiver can put a nutritious diet together, as well as help a person with dementia regularly have their meals.
Support for you
Caring for a person with dementia is by no means easy, so it’s important not to forget about your own mental health and life and make sure you also get the support you need. Having someone else — especially a person who knows and understands dementia — assisting and checking in on your loved one can be a huge weight lifted off your shoulders.
While making sure that your loved one with dementia has a better quality of life and that they’re in good hands, an in-home caregiver can also give you a much-needed break to take care of your own needs.
If you’re taking care of a loved one with dementia, it’s not easy to decide when the time has come to find some extra help. Take our short and simple assessment to confidently take the next steps in caring for your loved one with dementia.