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Are you seeking tips and ideas that you can use right now to care for your loved one? Has your loved one recently been diagnosed with dementia? Are you the primary caregiver for your loved one? Be aware that one of the most challenging aspects of watching your loved one struggle with dementia is seeing the sadness and confusion he or she may experience. We would like to share a few tips and ideas to help and encourage you as you begin your role as the caregiver for your loved one with dementia.

1. Keep life simple for your loved one. Often people with dementia may be overwhelmed by the confusion of a situation. So create an atmosphere of calmness, structure, security and encouragement to comfort your loved one. Any discussions or conversations should be spoken with simplicity and with the goal of your loved one being able to understand. For example, if you are going to any appointments, explain where you are going and why. When anyone comes over be sure your loved one knows who the person is and why they are there. If your loved one needs supportive devices, such as hearing aids or a walker, be sure to gently remind your loved one to use them.

2. Establish and keep routines. Routines will be very helpful to your loved one with dementia and make him or her feel safer. For example, begin the day with a morning routine that you and your loved one can follow. Start with waking up, going to the bathroom, washing hands, having breakfast, brushing teeth and taking a shower. Meal times should be at the same time each day and try to always include a daily walk in your routine. Also, at the same time each day, plan a fun activity that you know your loved one will enjoy. These routines will provide structure for your loved one. Keep a daily written schedule hanging on the wall to help your loved one remember the routines and times. Also you could give your loved one a small notebook to carry around with the daily schedule in it.

3. Discussions should be calm and never argumentative. Unfortunately, your loved one may be argumentative because of the impact of dementia on his or her brain. Refrain from arguing with your loved one and create an environment of calmness. Instead, reassure your loved one, listen to his or her concerns or frustrations and let your loved one know that you understand his or her anger or fear. Respect your loved one’s space and allow him or her as much control over decisions or activities as possible. You may need to create a plan to distract your loved one to lessen his or her anger. Again, remember that the behaviors your loved one is exhibiting may simply be the symptom of his or her disease.

Finally, as your loved one’s primary caregiver, one of the most important things you can do is to be kind to yourself. Never hesitate to reach out to your other family members for help. Caring for a loved one with dementia is a full time job. Keep in mind that 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.