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Do you have a loved one in your family with dementia? Are you the primary caregiver for your loved one? Unfortunately, one of the most challenging aspects of witnessing a loved one struggle with dementia may be the sadness and confusion he or she may experience. In addition, these feelings are often exhibited through angry outbursts and belligerence. We would like to provide some key tips to help you care for your loved one with dementia.

Scientifically, the deterioration of brain cells may be the cause of any behavioral changes in your loved one. For that reason, there may be nothing you can do to change him or her, nor should you expect the behavior to change. Remind yourself that any negative behavior you are witnessing may be the symptoms of his or her illness. Perhaps by utilizing the following key tips to comfort him or her and keep him or her safe within the disease process will help you as you care for your loved one.

1. Keeping things simple is key. When a person has dementia he or she can often be overwhelmed by the confusion of a situation. You, as the caregiver, will want to take over and try to explain what is going on. However, all of your words of explanation may be difficult for your loved one to comprehend and that may, in turn, lead to further agitation. Keep any situations your loved one is involved in or explanations that need to be made, simple. Too many words, explanations, and voices are distracting, so again, keep it simple.

2. Establishing a routine is key. You can help your loved one with dementia by establishing a routine. A person, experiencing the symptoms of dementia, will feel safe with a routine. For example, establish a morning routine of waking up, having breakfast, and taking a shower. Make your meal times the same each day and include a daily walk in your routine. These routines will provide structure for your loved one. Help your loved one remember the routine by having a written schedule hang on the wall. Your goal is always to keep the dignity of your loved one, so be sure to broach the subject of using supportive devices, such as hearing aids or a walker gently, as opposed to a paternalistic or demeaning way.

3. Not arguing with your loved one and staying calm is key. Again, as said in the opening paragraph, the disease process can be responsible for making your loved one argumentative. Be careful to not mirror your loved one’s anger with your anger. In fact, have a plan for yourself if you begin to experience feelings of anger or irritation while caring for your loved one. The best thing you can do may be to step outside for a moment and catch your breath, or at least pause and count to five. You need to allow yourself time to reset, and remind yourself that the behaviors your loved one is exhibiting may simply be the symptom of his or her disease.

Most importantly, as your loved one’s primary caregiver, be kind to yourself. Do not hesitate to reach out to your other family members for help. Caring for a loved one with dementia is a full time job. It may never go perfectly, so treat yourself with the same kindness that you treat your loved one. Remember, the fact that you are present and caring for your loved one can be the greatest source of support and comfort you can provide.

At Britton G. Swank, P.A., our mission is to guide you in the right direction to help you provide for yourself and your loved ones no matter what the future holds. We want to help you control the assets you have, leave them to people and causes you care about, when you want, in the way you want. We can help you take care of yourself and those you love in the event of disability due to illness, injury or old age. No matter what risks unfold, we can help give you the comfort of knowing you are prepared. We want you to feel good about your future and the future of your loved ones. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.